Consumers have hit out at plans for big increases in water prices for Sydney residents. Sydney Water has asked the independent pricing tribunal (IPART) for price rises of 4.6% for each of the next four years. Key community bodies have called for the NSW Government to adopt better strategies on water use.
‘Higher prices are not the solution to Sydney’s water problems’ said Jim Wellsmore, Senior Policy Officer with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). ‘Instead of slugging households Sydney Water needs to deal with the problem of reducing water use’.
PIAC and the Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) are critical of plans by the Government to focus on increasing the supply of water to Sydney. Community advocates have called for better measures to assist households to reduce their water use, arguing that sustainability is a greater concern than Sydney Water revenues.
‘Sydney Water has obligations to the commmunity to reduce use and ensure water remains affordable’, said Gary Moore, NCOSS Director. ‘Instead it wants to operate like a commercial business and earn more profits from its customers’.
The size of the proposed increases has led to concerns about the impact on low-income households. < p>
‘Higher water prices mean higher rents, higher food costs and they come on top of increases for electricity and other essentials’, said Gary Moore. ‘Sydney Water’s customer assistance schemes just don’t do enough to help poor people in the face of these extra burdens’.
PIAC’s Jim Wellsmore warns further price rises will result from the Government’s water strategy.
‘The Government is storing up the big problems for the future’, said Jim Wellsmore. ‘The Water Plan does little for demand reduction and Sydney Water has shown very little commitment to this area. This means the eventual solutions get harder and more expensive’.
Both PIAC and NCOSS have called on Sydney Water to release more details of its proposed changes to its customer assistance schemes and the funding of its household conservation programs.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169