A multi-billion investment in Greater Sydney’s water and wastewater networks to support growth, resilience and sustainability has been welcomed, with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) confirming in its Final Determination of Sydney Water’s 2020-2024 Price Review that this will not result in increased prices.
The new set pricing, which will include water, wastewater, stormwater and ancillary prices, indicates average household bills will fall by $80 a year or around seven per cent from 1 July 2020 following IPART’s determination.
Sydney Water Managing Director, Roch Cheroux, said, “Sydney Water bills were already some of the lowest in the country and this proposal will provide further relief to households when they really need it.
“It has been a challenging time for communities living through drought and coronavirus, so it is pleasing water and wastewater bills have been kept low and Sydney Water can continue its role in building resilience into our water network which will also provide a significant boost to jobs and the economy.
“Sydney Water presented a very strong case for investment which IPART has recognised and that means we can invest in the new and existing infrastructure required to support a fast-growing global city.
“Over the next four years, we will be building and upgrading water and wastewater treatment plants, increasing the use of digital technologies, including network monitoring systems and research innovations that will drive greater efficiencies across Sydney Water and improve services to customers.
“Record low interest rates, increased business efficiencies and a growing customer base mean that more investment can occur without bills increasing.”
In a new approach to drought management, IPART has introduced a dual approach to water pricing, with a usage price that applies in average weather conditions and another usage price that applies in drought. Drought pricing comes into effect when dam levels fall below 60 per cent and would remain in place until dams return to 70 per cent capacity.
Under drought conditions, an average annual household bill could increase by around seven per cent (if customers don’t reduce consumption) compared to current bills, until dam levels increase to 70 per cent.
Sydney Water General Manager, Customer, Strategy and Engagement, Maryanne Graham, said, “IPART’s new pricing approach reflects our strong focus on water conservation and encourages people to conserve water when it is most scarce. It also recognises the increased costs associated with supplying water during drought conditions including desalination.
“We will also work with our customers on ways to reduce their water use so together we can better manage the entire water cycle. If customers save water as they have during the past year – 11.4 per cent – while restrictions have been in place, they will also reduce their bills.
“Water is a precious resource and our customers place great value in it. We have seen from the last period of drought that the community is willing to adjust the way they use and consume water during extended periods of dry weather to reduce the impact on our dam levels and that is really encouraging.”
Sydney Water also has a range of resources to assist its customers in better managing their water usage and reducing their bills, including its Water Wise Coach, and PlumbAssist, WaterFix Residential and WaterFix Strata programs.
Sydney Water offers a range of support services and assistance options to its customers who may be experiencing payment difficulty, including pensioner concessions offered by the NSW Government.
IPART recommended a total expenditure allowance of $10.1 billion over 2020-24.
Major projects for Greater Sydney and the Illawarra over the next four years include:
- $2.7 billion to renew existing assets
- $1.7 billion to meet the needs of growth in water, wastewater and stormwater needs, particularly as Sydney expands to the west
- $490 million for reactive maintenance to deal with increased incidents on our network
- $350 million for digital assets, cybersecurity and to migrate to a new data centre