Hunter Water challenged to lift its game

Consumer advocates will press the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to ensure more reliable and equitable water services in the Hunter Region. IPART will use a public forum tomorrow to determine the terms on which Hunter Water is allowed to operate over the next three years.

The forum will consider whether to introduce new water demand reduction targets. Given significant changes to the Hunter region and Central Coast water supplies, a demand reduction target will challenge the water authority to look to demand-side solutions before building expensive new dams.

The forum will also consider the quality of service Hunter Water provides to its customers.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is alarmed by Hunter Water’s recent increase in water supply restriction to households as a result of debt. The number of actions for debt recovery spiked in the period 2002-2006, suggesting that not enough is being done to help struggling families manage rising costs in water bills.

“Restriction of water supply as a result of debt should be a last resort only” said Jim Wellsmore,

“Hunter Water shouldn’t cause further distress for households already struggling to make ends meet. Inflexible and demanding debt-recovery programs hit hardest on young, working families.”

Water pressure complaints and sewerage overflows will also be discussed. PIAC has suggested that these two areas continue to cause localised problems and require ongoing scrutiny.

The forum is open to the public and will take place from 11am-3:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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