NSW’s Hunter Water have been confirmed as having the lowest household bill and operating costs of any major Australian water utility in the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Performance Report.

The National Performance Report is released annually, and compares major water utilities across 30 areas including asset performance, finance and customer service.

The 2013-14 Report put Hunter Water’s average annual bill at $1,049, making it the lowest in the country and $218 less than the middle placed utility.

Hunter Water was also found to have the lowest operating costs of any major water utility, with operating costs of $570 per property, $367 less than the middle placed utility.

Hunter Water Managing Director, Kim Wood, said the results reflected a ‘back to basics’ approach, where the focus is on improving customer affordability and maintaining services.

“It’s no coincidence that Hunter Water’s operating costs and average water bill are the lowest of any major water utility in Australia. Hunter Water invests only what is required, ensuring that every dollar spent is the absolute best allocation of our customers’ money.

“Hunter Water is focused on doing all it can to support our region, conscious that the downturn in the mining industry has created enormous financial pressure on some local families.

“During the past two years and over the next 12 months, Hunter Water has limited price rises to keep parity with inflation, despite the challenge of increasing energy and materials costs.

“The National Performance Report has confirmed that a low water price doesn’t drive cuts in services, with Hunter Water reducing the number of water main breaks per 100km from 32 to 30 this year.

“Customer complaints have also fallen, with Hunter Water recording six complaints per 1,000 properties, down from seven last year.

“The National Performance Report also tells us there is room for improvement, with 82 litres of water lost per property per day from leaks across our 5,000 kilometre pipe network. Hunter Water is addressing this with an $18 million program to repair and reduce leaks, as well as working with the University of Newcastle to investigate how things like soil condition affect pipes.

“While the recent super storm has topped up dams to almost 100 per cent, the past year has locally been one of the driest on record. As a result, the amount of water each household used increased slightly to 181 kilolitres compared to a national average of 185.

In addition to promoting Water Wise Rules, Hunter Water is also working with school students to teach water conservation so they take these good behaviours into the home,” he said.

Hunter Water’s water and sewerage bill was compared against Australian water utilities with more than 100,000 connections, based on an average residential usage of 200 kilolitres per year.

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