Water prices for the Broken Hill region are currently being set by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). PIAC recently travelled to the Silver City to attend the Public Hearing for IPART’s review of prices by the local water authority, Essential Water.
Broken Hill is the most arid city in NSW, with average annual rainfall less than 20% of that in Sydney. The soil in the region is also naturally high in heavy metals, meaning residents need to grow ground cover to suppress dust, hose down driveways and wash windows regularly. These factors also make water a big issue for Broken Hill residents, who were out in force for the hearing at the Civic Centre.
PIAC argued that the residents of Broken Hill should not have to pay a high price for this essential water use. PIAC suggested that a previous subsidy from the NSW Government should be reinstated to avoid any major water price increases. PIAC also said that rebates for pensioners should be increased and the cost of introducing an emergency payment assistance scheme be examined by Essential Water.
A transcript of the hearing and PIAC’s submission are available on IPART’s website. IPART is expected to deliver its draft report in March.
Photo: Oliver Derum