June 17, 2020
The price of drawing water from South Burnett Regional Council’s standpipes is about to rise by almost 150 per cent.
The water charge is set to rise from $4.10 to $10 per kilolitre, although when Council intends to implement the new charges was not stated at Wednesday’s meeting.
Council officers said it was cheaper at the moment for South Burnett residents to get water from standpipes than to have it connected to their premises.
On average, residents connected to the untreated Proston Water Supply Scheme paid $11.73 per kl when access and connection charges were taken into account, while residents connected to the region’s treated water supply schemes paid $13.29 per kl.
By contrast, neighbouring Western Downs Regional Council charged an average $17.90 per kl for water, and Maranoa Regional Council $14.20 per kl.
Councillors also heard the standpipes were expensive to operate.
The attached tap-and-go electronic payment devices cost between $5000 and $7000 to repair every time they are vandalised.
This was because the specialised computer equipment could only be repaired by Brisbane-based technicians.
Cr Kathy Duff said she opposed the price rise because she knew many people who used the Hivesville standpipe in her Division were still affected by drought.
She thought it was unfair to raise prices at present.
Cr Duff also noted that water from the Hivesville standpipe was not potable and the flow rate was low.
By contrast, the Nanango standpipe dispensed potable (ie. drinkable) water and had a high flow rate.
Cr Gavin Jones said the price disparity between the standpipe charges and normal household charges was too much and it made sense to bring the standpipe price closer to the household price.
It shouldn’t be equal, he said, because residents still had to cart their water back to their property and not all water dispensed at standpipes was treated.
However, the difference shouldn’t be so large that water carters from outside the region would be tempted to fill their trucks at the expense of ratepayers.
Cr Kirstie Schumacher said she believed Council needed to provide standpipes but she also believed water should be supplied at a sustainable price so the standpipe service could continue.
In the end, Councillors agreed to raise the price of standpipe water by six votes to one, with Cr Duff opposed.