Tamworth Council could be slugged with a $308,000 bill as a result of surging bulk water prices - unless it passes the cost onto the public.
Tamworth Regional Council slammed a Water NSW request to increase bulk rates by 41.9 per cent as "outrageous".
In their submission the council complained the cost of raw water in the Peel Valley for high security license holders would be almost double the next highest priced valley in the Murray-Darling Basin, and 10 times higher than holders in the Murrumbidgee.
On Thursday, IPART announced they had approved a 37.1 per cent price hike for high security licence holders.
Mayor Col Murray said the council's submission had fallen on deaf ears.
"It seems that we were powerless to influence any deviation from the course of IPART," he said.
"We consistently make submissions, but it definitely seems that there is no opportunity to influence any consideration for local issues.
"It almost gets to the point where I feel like it's hardly worth making a submission on any proposal from IPART because it seems as though we have no opportunity to influence a change in their decision-making."
Tamworth council will now have to decide whether to wear the cost itself or pass it on to ratepayers.
If passed on, a household in Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal, which consumed the average annual amount of water, would see an increase of about $12.86 a year on their water bill.
Cr Murray said the impacts on out-of-town water users, like irrigators, will be "abhorrently severe". Many large Tamworth businesses are large potable water users and the rate rise is "of real concern" to them, he said.
"It is a concern when already we're the dearest valley for access to raw water in the state and we're seeing this level of increases," he said.
The price hike will take effect on October 1, 2021.
Council will make a decision about whether to pass on the costs to consumers as part of the 2022-2023 budget process.
In the meantime, council staff will ask councillors that funding be made available from the water reserve to fund the additional charges.
The council estimates the extra water fees would mean a 33 per cent increase in the cost of the Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal town water supply, a 30 per cent increase in Manilla, and a 44 per cent increase in Barraba.
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