Row continues over water bills
THE new two-part water tariff put forward by Whitsunday Regional Council was labelled “criminal” on one side of the debate and “responsible” on the other at a special meeting in Bowen last week.
In the anti-two-part tariff corner was Chris Monsour, a Bowen-based ratepayer who has been conducting presentations on water charges for the communities of Collinsville and Bowen.
Mr Monsour claims there are “massive discrepancies” in the amount of rainfall for the communities of Airlie Beach and Proserpine, versus Bowen and Collinsville.
“If you’re living in Airlie Beach you probably don’t have to turn on the sprinkler ‘til about June,” he said.
In his presentation, he also referred to comparisons with Townsville, where water consumers have three options, from a standard plan, to a water-watchers plan to a non-residential option.
“It’s about providing choice,” he said.
He also spoke about the need for concessions for water users in caravan parks, aged care facilities and the like.
He held up four bills, provided to him by a variety of businesses, including two tourism related businesses in the southern part of the shire, one of whom he said would have an increase in charges from $192 to $3,416.20, after the discount.
In the pro-two-part tariff camp was Council’s director of corporate services Graham Jarvis who described it as a responsible way forward for Council to recover its service delivery costs and factor in its debt.
“Yes, for some people there is a significant increase – I know that and I’ve spoken to most of those people, but out there in the community there are a lot of people that you don’t know about that the new twopart tariff actually reduces their bill,” he said.
Mr Jarvis countered the comparisons with Townsville by saying their Council did not provide an incentive for the community to conserve water, which in the end, would most likely lead to increased infrastructure costs.
“If you don’t encourage water conservation, particularly in a dry area then your infrastructure costs are huge comparable to a community that conserves water and that’s what we’re trying to encourage,” he said.
“We’re trying to avoid large infrastructure costs because quite honestly, Council can’t afford it.”
HEATED: Council's director of corporate services, Graham Jarvis with Bowen ratepayer Chris Monsour.