Proposed water charges public hearing

Central Coast water and sewage charges under review by IPART.

Residents wishing to have input into the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review of prices to be charged for water, sewerage and related services, have been invited to register to attend its public hearing, to be held at Mingara, on Tuesday, November 27.

Rural property owners have raised concerns about Central Coast Council’s recommendation to move to area-based charging for stormwater drainage based on land size for properties classified as non-residential. Former Wyong Council non-residential customers’ stormwater drainage charge is currently levied on the size of their water meter. “On average, prices will decrease,” Council’s submission to IPART said. “ However , approximately 400 customers will receive an increase in price, if IPART determines pricing as Council recommends,” the submission said.

The proposed sliding scale for non-residential stormwater drainage pricing would be from $110.77 per year for a small property of less than 1,000 square metres in size, up to $5,427.81 for a property more than 45,000 square metres in size. Property owners will be able to apply for a low impact charge of $110.77, but it is unclear whether this application will be a one-off or required every year. “Council proposes that all rateable properties will pay for stormwater drainage, as the whole community benefits from the drainage network. “Currently there are two prescribed drainage areas. “The former Gosford drainage area covers the whole of the former Gosford LGA, while the drainage area for the former Wyong LGA essentially includes all properties east of the M1. “To enable the proposed change, Council will need to apply to the NSW Minster for Water to have the whole of the Central Coast LGA declared a Drainage Area under the Water Management Act 2000. “

This will include an application for all properties west of the M1 in the former Wyong LGA. “This proposal would see all customers in the former Wyong LGA that are not included in the current designated Drainage Area required to pay the proposed stormwater drainage charge … if the entire LGA is declared a Drainage Area.” Council has justified its proposed changes to the way the stormwater drainage charges are implemented by arguing that “the whole community benefits from stormwater drainage infrastructure. “Stormwater drainage charges, as regulated by IPART, allow Council to recover the costs of providing trunk drainage such as stormwater pipes and pits, open channels, culverts, levees and detention basins – infrastructure that all members of the community benefit from.”

Central Coast Council’s pricing submission is available on IPART’s website. IPART has three steps left in the process for determining Central Coast’s water and sewerage charges from July 1, 2019. “This is the first time we will set prices for the Council as a merged entity, and we will consider whether prices should be aligned between the former Gosford and Wyong areas (and if so, how),” IPART’s website said. “We will also review the impact of the merger on the efficient costs of delivering water, sewerage and related services.” IPART will be making decisions on how many years to set prices for, what form of regulation and other incentives to apply, how much water is likely to be demanded and how the Council’s prices are structured and its costs shared between different types of customers.

Council proposes to limit increases in bills for the determination period to the rate of inflation only, and that IPART’s price determination be in place from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2023.

IPART will issue a draft report and determination in April, 2019, and then its final report and determination in May.

Source: Website, Nov 7 Water – Metro Pricing, IPART