The Essential Services Commission (ESC), Victoria’s independent regulator for the water sector, has completed its 2018 water price review, confirming that Victorian water bills will remain the lowest in Australia.

The ESC has made its final decisions on the pricing submissions for 17 Victorian water corporations, following a public consultation process.

Essential Services Commission Chair, Ron Ben-David, says these pricing decisions will see the vast majority of Victorian water customers benefit from flat or falling water prices.

“We dared the water businesses to think big and today we’re seeing the dividends for customers from that dare,” Dr Ben-David said.

“We challenged the water businesses to work with their customers to find the best ways to deliver real service improvements while also saving customers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.”

The latest price decisions mean many regional customers will enjoy lower bills for the next five years.

Customers of GWMWater (Horsham) will have the largest decrease in 2018–19 of around $30 for a typical residential customer. Bills will also fall by more than $25 in 2018–19 for customers of City West Water and Coliban Water.

City West Water will retain the lowest average household water bills for a metropolitan city in Australia.

City West Water Managing Director, David Ryan, said delivering high quality services efficiently and keeping bills affordable was the business’s top priority.

“In developing our submission we engaged extensively with our customers, talking to over 2,200 people from across our service area to ensure our submission reflected the services our customers valued,” Mr Ryan said.

“One of the key things our customers told us they wanted to see was more personalised services – we’re going to provide that, with quicker turnaround times in emails, extended phone hours and a move to providing a face-to-face service.

“We service some of the fastest growing areas in Australia so, in addition to lower water bills, we’re going to be stepping up capital investment in infrastructure, both in the west and in Melbourne’s CBD, by $535 million over the next five years, upgrading water and sewerage networks.”

Customers of Goulburn Valley Water (Shepparton) will benefit from the largest reduction of around $90 for a typical customer over five years.

Savings identified as a result of community feedback and discussion with the water corporations mean customers of Wannon Water and South Gippsland Water will also see lower prices than what was originally proposed. For these businesses, price changes will be limited to inflation.

Customers of North East Water will see small price increases, of $4 per year for an average customer, but will still have some of the lowest water bills in Australia.

Gippsland Water customers will see a one-off bill increase of $20 in 2018–19, but bills will then flatten out and only rise with inflation.

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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