Row con­tin­ues over wa­ter bills

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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