Punished for saving our water

By FRAZER PEARCE

A DRAMATIC drop in water usage could hit Rockhampton residents next year with increased charges if the trend to turn off taps continues.

Since the user-pays metering system began in July, residential usage in the city has plummeted by 30% in the three months to the end of September.

This massive reduction has prompted the city council to call for a report into the financial implications of lost water revenue after it had only budgeted for a 15% drop.

But Wandal's Viv Martin is not bothered by the situation. "It's not a fair assumption (that prices will rise) after just three months,'' he said yesterday.

"In another three months you could find it has balanced out. You have to account for the initial knee jerk reaction (to the userpays system) and the rain.''

Mayor Margaret Strelow, chair of Fitzroy River Water, admitted prices might rise. The city's daily water consumption in July and August averaged 43mL, which was respectively 67% and 62% of last year's usage.

The council has set aside $2 million to handle any shortfall in the first year of the user-pays system.

However it might need to recoup expenses of supplying and treating water as most of those costs didn't change significantly.

"Our water pricing model was assuming a 15% drop in residential use based on 03/ 04 year,'' she said.

"Our total usage for that year (residential and commercial) was 23,701 mL (10year average is 24,077mL).



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