SA Water and Yankalila Council are seeking feedback after reaching an in-principle agreement on a proposal for SA Water to take responsibility of the drinking water supply network in Wirrina and sewerage within the entire council region.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customer Delivery, Kerry Rowlands, said they’re now looking to local residents and businesses to provide their view on the proposal.

“To enable us to take on operation of Wirrina’s drinking water supply, an investment from new Wirrina water customers is required to fund necessary upgrades to the network. These will bring the local treatment plant in line with our operational standards,” Ms Rowlands said.

“We need majority support from people currently supplied through Wirrina’s mains water network, for the changeover in management to proceed.”

The contribution would be in the form of a one-off payment – $4000 per house (or vacant land) and $2000 per apartment – to be made when ownership of the network transfers to SA Water. Business customers would also make a pro-rata contribution, the details of which SA Water is discussing with each business.

This one-off payment will increase by five per cent each year if a customer chooses to sign up after SA Water assumes management and operation of local water assets.

“Ongoing water usage charges for Wirrina water customers would move to SA Water’s state-wide price – which enables most of our customers pay the same price regardless of where they live or the actual cost of providing the service – which is lower than existing council charges,” Ms Rowlands said.

“If SA Water assumes ownership of Wirrina water network, and a local resident or business owner chooses not to become an SA Water customer, they will remain a customer of the District Council of Yankalilla and will be subject to their existing charges.”

A previous proposal for SA Water to assume management of both water and sewerage networks in Wirrina was put to the community in 2015 but didn’t proceed due to a lack of support.

The District Council of Yankalilla’s Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Morris, said this latest proposal is much more cost-effective and shows SA Water has listened to the feedback provided to date.

“Ensuring residents and businesses in Wirrina are provided a quality and secure drinking water supply at a cost they can afford, now and into the future, is vital,” Nigel said.

“We know SA Water has the know-how, but it’s also important people understand the proposal when deciding whether or not to support it. We’ve given our conditional support, now we want our local community members to have their say.”

The in-principle agreement between SA Water and the council also involves transfer of ownership to SA Water of sewerage services across the whole council area – which includes Community Wastewater Management Systems (CWMS) for Wirrina; Normanville, Yankalilla, Carrickalinga and Links Lady Bay; Myponga Beach; and Second Valley.

There will be no additional up-front charge to existing CWMS customers when transferring to SA Water.

Once feedback on the proposal is received, SA Water and the council will look to update the Yankalilla community on the outcome. If successful, the transition of both the council district’s sewerage network and water supply in Wirrina to SA Water would come into effect on 1 January 2019.

This is subject to a number of pre-conditions, including majority support from the Wirrina community, and the District Council of Yankalilla resolving minor issues with existing support infrastructure as well as retaining ownership of the Wirrina Dam.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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