Anger over price hike

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION - By Alana Chris­tensen

Ca­ni­ambo farmer Sarah Kealey and Tam­leugh farmer Jenny Pum­meroy say a price in­crease for to­kens to op­er­ate a nearby standpipe is un­fair.

For Ca­ni­ambo farmer Sarah Kealey, the 20 km round trip to the Goul­burn Main Chan­nel is a fa­mil­iar one.

With sum­mer ap­proach­ing, the dams on her Martins Rd prop­erty have run dry, forc­ing her to use a standpipe at the Kialla East chan­nel to pump and cart wa­ter for her stock.

Es­tab­lished in 2002-03 by the thenLa­bor gov­ern­ment, the Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil-run standpipe al­lowed stock and do­mes­tic users to ac­cess 2000 litres for the price of a $1.20 to­ken.

But Ms Kealey and Jenny Pum­meroy, who lives nearby and also uses the pipe, say two re­cent price hikes have left them pay­ing $10.20 a to­ken for their 2000 litres.

‘‘What we’re pay­ing for wa­ter and what a meg of wa­ter costs . . . we’re pay­ing way more,’’ Ms Kealey said. ‘‘That’s our life­line.’’ Ac­cord­ing to wa­ter trad­ing com­pany Water­pool Co-op, mar­ket cost for a me­gal­itre

The dams on Sarah Kealey’s prop­erty have run dry, forc­ing her to use the standpipe to pro­vide her sheep and beef cat­tle with drink­ing wa­ter. of wa­ter in the Goul­burn pool is cur­rently $400.

Un­der the standpipe scheme, the same vol­ume of wa­ter is cost­ing Ca­ni­ambo and sur­round­ing farm­ers about $5100 through the pur­chase of to­kens.

‘‘We are so in the dark ages out here it’s not even funny. We’re do­ing two runs each day, it’s pretty vi­tal . . . It’s only get­ting hot­ter and peo­ple are go­ing to be re­ly­ing on it more, but you get some hot days and it goes whack (and a lot of the wa­ter evap­o­rates),’’ Ms Kealey said.

Af­ter re­peated at­tempts to get the is­sue re­solved, Ms Pum­meroy said she had been un­able to re­solve the is­sue, and la­belled the price rise ‘‘ridicu­lous’’.

‘‘(My hus­band) John is cart­ing 6000 litres at a time, we’ve only got to buy about 40 to­kens and we’ve paid for a meg of wa­ter,’’ she said.

The coun­cil said the price rise of the to­kens was the re­sult of a re­view last year into the cost of op­er­at­ing the standpipe.

At the time of the re­view the coun­cil es­ti­mated the main­te­nance and op­er­at­ing costs of the standpipe to be $7000 but said it had re­cov­ered only $139 through the pur­chase of to­kens at a cost of $1.30 each.

Ms Pum­meroy has ques­tioned this es­ti­ma­tion. She said her farm alone had pre­vi­ously spent up to $800 on to­kens in a dry sum­mer.

‘‘One hun­dred per cent of the to­ken costs goes to­ward main­te­nance and op­er­at­ing costs which is still not suf­fi­cient to cover the cost of pro­vid­ing this ser­vice,’’ act­ing in­fra­struc­ture di­rec­tor Ma­ree Walker said.

‘‘There is cur­rently no me­ter on the stand­pipes; due to this, wa­ter us­age is roughly cal­cu­lated through the sale of to­kens.

‘‘Coun­cil are in the process of un­der­tak­ing a re­view which will seek to iden­tify the most ap­pro­pri­ate fu­ture man­age­ment ar­range­ments for stand­pipes lo­cated in Greater Shep­par­ton.’’

High and dry . . .

Ris­ing costs . . .

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