Neil Fisher says the region’s water costs too much now. He’s installed a new sprinkler system to shave 20% off his bill.
Neil Fisher says the region’s water costs too much now. He’s installed a new sprinkler system to shave 20% off his bill. Allan Reinikka

Water price rise is outrageous

GARDENING guru and former city councillor Neil Fisher says if Rockhampton Regional Council goes through with plans to hike water costs by 27% over the next three years it will be a betrayal of those who paid for the city’s barrage.

Fitzroy River Water says it has no choice but to increase charges by approximately 9% a year over the next three years to comply with state government legislation.

But Mr Fisher, who campaigned against the introduction of water meters in the city, says the time has come for councillors to show some guts and draw a line in the sand.

“They should say enough is enough and defy the Government. Rockhampton is a special case and these proposed rises are a slap in the face for the battlers who are sinking under rates and utility price increases.”

He says under former Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow, city councillors framed a water charges plan with a long-term strategy to keep prices low and increases at no more than the general rate of inflation.

“They are reneging on promises made when meters were introduced,” said Mr Fisher who predicts that people will cut back on watering gardens and footpaths to such an extent that the region will turn brown.

“Talk of full cost recovery really annoys me. Our community dug deep to fund the barrage. We made Rockhampton drought proof and greened a city that was a dust bowl. Let’s stand up to the government now, like Rex Pilbeam did.”

He said at the official opening of the barrage, Mayor Pilbeam famously said no Rockhampton resident would ever again have to pay the full cost for water.

But times have changed.

Water Committee chairman Cr Greg Belz told The Morning Bulletin the region’s householders enjoyed some of the lowest water charges in the state and he was confident they would continue to do so. Stories of future spiralling water charges in many areas across the state did not apply here, he said.

But he confirmed that, to meet state government requirements in relation to water pricing, total water costs would have to rise approximately 9% a year over the next three years.

An average consumer in the region would incur an increase of about 81 cents a week in the next financial year and many customers who use less than the average would see even smaller rises.

“While many other water providers throughout the state are staring at hundreds of millions of dollars to replace old run down treatment plants, FRW has already built for the future and the needs of the next generation,” he said.

And he promised the organisation would continue to look for ways to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.



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