A REVIEW of the State Water Corporation’s regulated water charges for 2014 - 2017 is underway and briefing meetings are being held with customer representative groups across regional NSW.
The final briefing for the northern region will be held for the Gwydir region on Thursday.
State Water is hosting the meetings to inform water users of legislative changes which will result in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) determining water charges for users in the Murray Darling Basin.
In the lead up to lodging its pricing submission to the ACCC in May, State Water is maintaining a practice of presenting features of its submission that matter most to customer groups in each of the Murray Darling Basin valleys in NSW.
During price reviews, State Water representatives also met with customer representatives from each major river valley to outline the organisation’s position and water charges proposed for the July 2014 - June 2017 determination period.
State Water chief executive officer Brett Tucker said State Water had scheduled consultations with customer service committees throughout regional NSW.
“We are again being upfront and open about what we will be proposing to the ACCC in a bid to recoup our costs where possible and conduct ourselves efficiently as would any sustainable business,” he said.
“Detailing our position to water users allows them to the opportunity to hear detail about our reasoning, and assists in formulating their submission to the ACCC.”
He said ultimately the ACCC was an independent arbiter that would access all submissions and make a fully informed ruling on what constitutes a reasonable bulk water pricing determination.
“This is a process that has served to balance our business needs with those of our customers and do so in a way that compels State Water to operate as efficiently as possible and minimise the costs it seeks to recoup from the customers it serves,“ he said.
Mr Tucker said the proposed changes to the ratio of fixed charges to usage charges which will feature in State Water’s final submission will reduce financial volatility brought on by climate variables.
“State Water is a business with mostly fixed costs and to manage financial risk it is necessary to move to a tariff structure that more closely reflects State Water’s cost structure,” he said.
“This is more consistent with other Australian bulk water utilities.”
Mr Tucker said State Water understood the difficulties faced by farmers, particularly in times of low water availability.
“To help farmers better manage their cash flows during these times, State Water is proposing a fixed charge deferral scheme in addition to its existing hardship assistance options,” he said.
After State Water has lodged its submission, the ACCC will continue to consult with the public and will invite water users to have their say through a public submissions process.