Dam full but price rises

By SAMANTHA HEALY and ED SOUTHORN

THE Tweed water price hike is not being matched on the Gold Coast, where residents are facing theirtoughest ever water restrictions. Despite Clarrie Hall Dam being almost full and no water restrictions anywhere on the Tweed, Tweed Shire Council wants to increase water charges from July 1. Banora Point Residents Association president Rod Bates yesterday said he was appalled that Tweed people were being hit by what seemed to be a money grab. "It sounds like just another excuse to raise money at the expense of the local community," Mr Bates said. A spokesman for Gold Coast Water said Gold Coast residents paid $1.16 per kilolitre of water, which rose from $1.06 in 2006, but there was no indication a further price hike was on the way yet. Earlier this week the Daily News revealed Tweed ratepayers would soon cop another water price increase with the cost per kilolitre jumping from 82 cents (2005/06), $1.04 (2006/07) to $1.23 per kilolitre on July 1. Tweed Shire Council water manager David Oxenham said the Tweed increase would "reflect the true price of water". "We need to recover the true costs of our assets. In the long term, Council would have ended up in financial difficulty," he said. Council will again slug ratepayers, most likely in 2009, increasing the cost per kilolitre to $1.37 (in today's dollar value). Mr Oxenham said that Council used a substantial financial model to come up with the figures, looking at the council's predicted cash flow over a 30-year period. "There will be more increases to come to account for the true cost of water, that is, the cost to maintain our water assets," he said. The assets include water treatment facilities, pumping stations, sewerage treatment plants and pipelines. Mr Oxenham said Gold Coast water was cheaper per kilolitre because residents are charged a higher access fee than Tweed residents. Tweed ratepayers can expect to pay more and more for their water over the next few years, with Council likely to impose rises to $1.50 in 2010, $1.64 in 2011 and $1.78 in 2012 (2007 values).



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