Hunter Water has been given the green light to invest $364.5 million over the next four years on new and existing water and sewer infrastructure.
This is part of Hunter Water’s ten year plan to spend more than $1 billion in the region, ensuring its water and sewer network is appropriately sized to support development throughout the Hunter and meet the standards set out in its environmental licences.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has given Hunter Water the go-ahead to invest in the infrastructure as part of a 12 month public review.
Following the review, IPART also announced water and sewer prices for homes and businesses for the next four years.
From 1 July, the average water and sewer bill for the next 12 months for a homeowner will increase by $25 to $1085, while apartment owners will see their average bill increase by $36 to $855.
Hunter Water Interim CEO Jeremy Bath said IPART considered submissions from stakeholders including Hunter Water, the NSW Environmental Protection Agency, State politicians and the local community.
“IPART has determined prices above those requested by Hunter Water in June last year. However, the final determination released today includes lower prices for home owners than IPART proposed in the March 2016 draft report, following feedback from Hunter Water, customers and other stakeholders,” Mr Bath said.
“In a win for homeowners, IPART has agreed that the difference in sewer service charges between owners of houses and apartments should be steadily reduced. Over the next four years, the sewer charge for apartments will rise from 72.5 to 82.5 per cent of the equivalent service charge paid by the owners of houses.”
Mr Bath said IPART has reduced Hunter Water’s approved operational budget by 1.8 per cent.
Hunter Water has already commenced a review of its spending over the next four years to identify operating efficiencies to reach IPART’s budget target without sacrificing services to our customers.
“The price increases above what Hunter Water proposed are largely driven by IPART’s economic modelling of forecast financing costs.
“Hunter Water will still have one of the lowest average water bills in the country. Further, we will be doing everything we can to ensure our operating costs also continue to be among the lowest of any Australian water utility.
“Hunter Water will continue to invest in capital projects with its focus on ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. We will not place our operating license at risk by cutting projects for budgetary reasons,” Mr Bath said.
Hunter Water’s new prices will be applied from 1 July 2016.