The price of water dispensed by the region’s standpipes will be rising by almost 150 per cent soon to bring the price difference between standpipes and household connections closer
Division 5 Cr Kathy Duff
opposed the price rise

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.

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16 Responses to "Water Costs More Than Double"

  1. Not Surprised  June 17, 2020

    I wonder what happened to all those promises made through the election campaign to freeze rates and fees from the Mayor & the Division 6 Councillor, “A Strong Voice”? I do recall they both claimed there would be more consultation with the community before any decision-making. The Strong Voice was pretty quiet in today’s meeting. I didn’t hear his voice speak up for the people of Wondai & surrounds.

    Good to see Kathy Duff sticking up for the people in Division 5 as she always does. At least one Councillor battles for her division.

  2. Wilson  June 17, 2020

    What a load of crock…. not everyone in this region has water going past their front door, but you Councillors still want everyone to pay top dollar for rates here. The water for Kingaroy and Nanango tastes disgusting- I won’t drink it!

    Sorry not good enough, crap roads and raising the costs for the below poverty line people. I thought things might change under this council… but no, not at all.

  3. Michael Cridland  June 17, 2020

    What a joke! You cannot get water connected to rural properties and have to cart it. So much for our Mayor’s promises, but people will remember.

  4. Greg Pomfret  June 17, 2020

    It didn’t take long for the newly elected SBRC councillors to take over where their predecessors left off. What happened to being individuals and standing up for the ratepayers? How about trimming the fat at the front offices, cutting red tape and bringing development to the area? In the first few months you have given yourselves a pay rise, increased the price of a essential water and given Council staff a pay rise, while others are out of work under this current lockdown situation. I expect there are a lot of local residents thinking the same as myself.

    Always remember: you are there to provide a service, not a profit. And it’s our money you’re spending.

  5. Bouncer  June 17, 2020

    “The attached tap-and-go electronic payment devices cost between $5000 and $7000 to repair every time they are vandalised.”

    Don’t they have CCTV (video surveillance) and warning signs?

    “…water carters from outside the region would be tempted to fill their trucks at the expense of ratepayers.”

    Make regulations so only water carters with their business in the South Burnett are allowed to fill their trucks at these standpipes. It must be known when a truck has filled up by the amount dispensed and at what time and date that happened. Look at the CCTV and check the number plate. If it is from a non-South Burnett water carter then issue a fine. An even better system would be to restrict the amount of water that can be dispensed unless the person inputs an authorized code number. But I guess the bowsers wouldn’t have that capability.

  6. L. Muir  June 18, 2020

    The $11.73 quoted includes paying for pipes maintenance of the connection to the house. Since people are bringing water via vehicle and making the council spend this, of course the price should be lower. And assuming that water is priced to make a slight profit for the council, why wouldn’t you want to sell it to water carriers?

    If your IT supplier is charging you 5 grand to change a $100 eftpos machine, then I suggest you change supplier. Too many pollies living the good life but without a clue of how to run a business.

  7. Alternative Plan  June 18, 2020

    What would be wrong with doing the water the same way the SBRC have done the rubbish dumps? All those that want to buy water submit their name and get given a PIN number. They go to the water bowser, put their pin number into a heavy duty keypad (make the vandals think twice) but you’re limited to 1000 litres at a time. If you want 2000 you have to do the keypad again.

    At the end of the month council emails the ratepayer an invoice. If you don’t pay it, you don’t get any more water until it is paid.

  8. Patricia Osborne  June 18, 2020

    These newly elected councillors and Mayor need to get off their high horses and take off their blinkers. Why hasn’t the costs of repairs ever been looked into? Oh, I forgot: it is not their money, so just pay up and shut up.

    Instead of sitting on your horse investigate. As for them being vandalised, I thought that council would have a policy in place to protect their assets.

    Not everyone has access to town water. Why don’t we all think about how to fix this issue. Maybe signing a petition and giving it to Deb. She’s a local and could use all the help in the next election.

  9. John  June 19, 2020

    The poor decisions of council implementing a system that is not economically sustainable … but don’t worry, the ratepayers will cop the cost of Council stuff-ups!

  10. Not Surprised  June 19, 2020

    It won’t be long before we hear Councillors and the Mayor making excuses or attempting to justify their decisions. They’ll either blame the media or find reason to explain the fee structure in a different manner to make the ratepayers look as if we don’t understand.

    South Burnett ratepayers are going to be in for a very long 4 years if this is how the current council are starting off by increasing fees so early.

    I have to ask the question, is there anyone in the South Burnett Region that is actually qualified with business experience who will run in 2024 who doesn’t have a self agenda and is actually willing to stand up and speak on behalf of the people?

    I voted for the current Mayor and the Division 6 Councillor on the basis they both said, “Must have more consultation with ratepayers, more communication, no increase in fees or rates”.

    Well Mr Mayor and Cr. Henschen, you are both hereby on notice! You will not be getting my vote again.

  11. Glenn Sams  June 20, 2020

    Dear ‘Not surprised’: you voted for change, and this is the change you got: increased councillor allowances (including those tasty $100 councillor dinners), increased water fees and increased wages.

    The new Mayor and Division 6 councillor made a lot of great promises but actions speak louder than words. Maybe ‘change’ wasn’t such a good idea after all. I hope you have spoken to them both and put your points across.

  12. Brett Otto  June 20, 2020

    I have been working flat in the community consulting with people all over the region in my first two months in the job and have been publicising all of my community visits on my FB page. The truth is that council faces a lot of financial challenges and I’m working hard to address these, as I said I would, including through internal budget cuts and by accessing more government funding.

    I have not taken a pay rise, the truth is that I’ve honoured my pledge to use my own car and pay for all of my own fuel, meal and travel costs, which I am doing out of my own pocket, saving the ratepayers approx $30,000 per year. I took on this job to help the community for no other reason and with no other agenda. I am happy to discuss this issue further with any resident. Please call me. My contact details are on my mayors FB page.

    I’m going to hold public meetings on this in Nanango and Hivesville next week. Will let everyone know details of date and venue on Monday.

  13. Bill McIntyre  June 21, 2020

    Why have a CPA as Mayor if his solution to a tricky situation is to just put the cost up? No originality here. We could have just stuck with the last bloke otherwise.

  14. Glenn Sams  June 21, 2020

    Dear Mr Mayor, well surprise surprise! After all those great promises you have discovered council has ‘financial challenges’ and you can’t deliver. Your solution is to increase fees to ratepayers. And you wonder why ratepayers are disillusioned already with you and your team? Very disappointing.

  15. Mark Luck  June 23, 2020

    Well, two months down, I can accept the increases in travel costs per Councillor as they are not outrageous. Similarly if the meal reimbursement costs are well below the allowed maximum then I can agree to pay the higher rate if the occasion warranted it. Council missed the opportunity to provide a history of meal claims to prove their statements are correct.

    The cost of water will always be argued between those with town water and those without. My case is, I pay access charges of $354.00 per year for a non-existent water meter on vacant land. If I want a meter put in, I have to pay for it myself and then pay for any usage.

    I am happy to see the general improvement in appearance of the region. This has been long overdue and improvements can still be made.

    The council staff have not received a wage rise for I think three years. The amount offered is reasonable in those circumstances and the show of good faith in paying the rise while it gets rubber stamped is good business sense. I look forward to Council Managers using this progress as a tool to achieving increased productivity in the Council workforce.

    Now is Budget time and all ratepayers expect Councillors to be reviewing every item of expenditure to find savings to offset these approved expenditures. Things are not financially rosy in our community. Farmers are still in the grip of drought, COVID-19 has greatly reduced incomes for 95% of businesses in our region, commodity prices for pork products has reduced by around 50%, landlords are having to accept lesser rents to keep tenants in their premises. Our community sporting clubs have had their incomes stalled.

    I am sure ratepayers have not forgotten the horrendous rise Council imposed in 2018 and two sitting Councillors lost their seats as a result. The date for approving the Budget was pushed back to allow Councillors time to know the Budget backwards. I hope that time is being used to ratepayers’ benefit.

    Finally, should Councillors vote themselves a rise in their remuneration, I would expect a rebellion from ratepayers like never before.

  16. Glenn Sams  July 19, 2020

    Is it true the councillors got a 2% pay rise as at July 1? I would have thought with the saleyards issue, the standpipe water increases, the councillor expenses debacle and don’t forget the COVID crisis they might have voted to freeze their pay. Doesn’t appear so!


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