Coliban Water has invited customers to provide feedback on its draft pricing plan which details intended levels of pricing and investment over the next five years.
A formal review process of pricing is completed every five years by the independent Essential Services Commission to ensure the outcomes reached and the bills customers pay recover only what we need.
The review ensures that there are built-in measures to protect the most vulnerable in communities, and that a balance is struck between delivering reasonable prices today and preparing for the future.
Coliban Water Managing Director, Damian Wells, said the consultation process for the Community Draft has established that customers understand the need for a modest increase in customer bills to invest in our water assets.
“The plan proposes to phase-in price rises from 2023 to 2028,” Mr Wells said.
“For the average household, this results in bill increases of approximately $0.70 per week, excluding inflation.
“This modest increase will be invested into upgrades and renewals of our assets and supporting customers experiencing vulnerability, while still remaining below the national average water bill.”
Mr Wells said the Community Draft considers feedback from customers, including a 32-member Community Panel.
“For the first time in our history, we supported an independently facilitated Community Panel to ensure we had strong community participation in our planning for the future,” Mr Wells said.
“The Panel worked for five days to develop recommendations that have been accepted by the Coliban Water Board.
“The recommendations of the Panel, combined with customer feedback we have been gathering over the past five years, inform our draft pricing plan.
“The region is at a critical point in its water supply and demand. We are experiencing the effects of climate change, our population is growing and our infrastructure is aging.
“A key aspect of our plan is to increase capital investment to $435 million for upgrades and renewals of our water service assets including drinking water plants, sewerage treatment facilities and pipe networks in the towns we serve.”
Coliban Water is 100 per cent customer-funded, and the water and sewage services in the region are managed and operated on behalf of the community by Coliban Water.
“The money that our customers pay through their water and sewer bill goes towards infrastructure and services that benefit the entire community and the environment,” Mr Wells said.
“Our infrastructure needs constant attention to remain efficient and meet demand.”
Coliban Water recognises the cost of living pressures facing some members of the community. As a result, the proposed price increase will be phased-in over the first two years to make the transition for customers a smoother one.
“Our Customer Support Programs will be boosted to $570,000 per year to support residential and business customers who may need assistance. Our team is trained to provide confidential advice, support or referral to other services,” Mr Wells said.
The Community Draft is open throughout July 2022 for customer feedback.
Mr Wells said Coliban Water is encouraging all customers to read the draft plan and have their say.
The draft plan is available now at Connect Coliban.