Cowra ratepayers paying more than their neighbours for water

Cowra ratepayers are paying more in usage costs for water than ratepayers in most of our neighbouring shires.

A comparison with our near neighbours showed that while Cowra ratepayers pay one of the lowest rates to access water they pay the highest rate for usage.

Last financial year Cowra ratepayers paid $215 to access the water system and $3.31 per kilolitre for water.

These charges are increasing to $221 for access in the new financial year and $3.41 per kilolitre for every kilolitre of water used.

By comparison last financial year Parkes ratepayers were paying just $184 to access the town's water system. Parkes ratepayers then paid $1.90/kl for first the 400kl of water used and $3.50 for every other kilolitre.

Forbes residents, who like Cowra get their water from the Lachlan River, were paying an access charge of $239 and then $1.40/kl for every kilolitre of water used.

Central Tablelands Water, which supplies water to Canowindra and Grenfell, charged an access fee of $240 and a per kilolitre rate of $3.10/kl for all water used.

Orange and Dubbo was charging $268.71 and $272.33 respectively for access.

In Orange residents were asked to pay $2.41 per kilolitre for the first 450kl they used and then $3.60/kl for all water used after that point.

Bathurst ratepayers paid $2.21/kl for the first 250kl they used and then $3.38 for every other kilolitre.

Charges for water in Cowra have been a contentious issue dating back to at least 2013 and again in 2016 and also a matter of complaint for a number of years.

At the June Cowra Shire Council meeting Cr Ray Walsh said the council had received a single letter during the budget process regarding water charges but he had received "quite a few verbal approaches over recent times".

Cr Walsh said he "would like to just point out to everyone that between 2006 and 2014 Cowra Shire Council borrowed $8.6 million for essential works such as the repair and maintenance of the water treatment plant, mains replacement etc.

"The water isn't just Cowra's, it's also some of the villages, we have extensive lines running out to areas some even outside our shire which we have under an arrangement with Central Table Lands and the state government, we would have to maintain those lines.

"There's $5,437,000 still owing on those loans the interest and principal have to be paid.

"So I do urge people to consider these things when they do complain about the cost of water, in that we have an obligation as a council to make sure that we have an adequate and safe water supply for our residents.

"I think that some of the comments that I have received over a period of time neglect the fact that everything costs money to provide," Cr Walsh said.

Mayor Bill West pointed out Council is currently waiting on Department of Primary Industries and Environment (DPIE) to give it a tick off to actually go ahead with its integrated water cycle management plan.

"That's the key component that we have to complete, we are having difficulty getting that kicked off, to go to a consultant, to actually give us a really good deep view of our long-term strategic planning for our water and sewer.

"That would include being able to go to a community and say 'this is where the reserves and the funding is designed to go' and will also give us a really good critical appraisal of our fees and charges and how they fit with what we need to do to continue to provide the sewer and water services within our Shire and as Cr Walsh pointed outside as well for water.

"We're really are hamstrung to some extent by DPIE not providing that feedback to us," Cr West said.

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