A COLAC community group leader says a 10-per-cent price hike for water, on top of other rising bills, is of “grave concern”.
Victoria’s water regulator has made a draft decision to let Barwon Water increase charges for Colac customers to cover the cost of a Melbourne-Geelong pipe.
Our Kids Need You spokesman Chris Smith said water, power and rates bills were forcing Colac families to “accept a lower standard of living”.
“Whether it’s water or power or another bill rising above the CPI, the bottom line is they have a significant impact on the disposable income of families,” Mr Smith said.
“More and more families are facing the burden of meeting everyday costs.
“The discretionary spend goes first but now it’s going past that; it’s about getting by day to day.”
The Essential Services Commission plans to approve a three-per-cent increase in water prices for Barwon Water customers in 2012-13 on top of an already-approved seven-per-cent rise, from July 1.
Commission chairman Ron Ben-David said the additional three-per-cent increase would pay for the $80 million Melbourne-to-Geelong pipe and help secure Barwon Water’s water supply.
The ESC will make a final decision in June but Colac’s water users can oppose the proposed three-per-cent increase by written submission.
The three-per-cent increase on water services will only apply in the 2012-2013 financial year.
“The commission is aware of the impact of price rises on customers, and we will continue to ensure that Barwon Water has in place measures to help address affordability and hardship issues,” Dr Ben-David said.
Barwon Water board member David Harris of Colac said the board wanted to cut costs to reduce pressure on Colac district families.
“The new board is very keen to draw a line in the sand from ever-increasing prices,” Mr Harris said.
“We have spent a lot of time working on how to ensure Barwon Water delivers quality product at a lower price; but we are hoping the board will have more to say in coming months.”
Barwon Water’s Colac customers can also learn more about the commission’s draft decision at a public meeting at Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre next month.
The ESC forum at COPACC on May 14 is from 4.30pm to 6.30pm and people can mail or email submissions by May 21.
The commission’s draft decision is online at www.esc.vic.gov.au