Home owners will find it easier to apply for a reduction in their water bill as council moves forward with a temporary policy change to cut through red tape.
Currently, residents who believe their water consumption reading is too high can apply for a reduction in their bill once every five years.
A key part of this application process requires the applicant to have their water meter tested, but as smart water meters are being installed in properties across the region, the old manual readers are being removed and discarded, making it impossible to test their accuracy.
"When we change technology there's always unforeseen challenges that arise. The key to addressing those challenges is to identify what a fair and equitable solution can be," Cr Judy Coates said at council's latest meeting.
That's where the policy change comes in. Once adopted, it will waive the requirement for residents to have their meter tested if the water bill in doubt is based on the last reading of the property's old manual meter.
"This is a great outcome for community. Not only is there smarter infrastructure making sure the reading of water meters is accurate and timely, but also removing that red tape that can slow down that process for the community to get their assessments done quickly," Cr Marc Sutherland said.
Council voted in favour of the policy change at its meeting on August 8, meaning it will go out for public comment for a period of 28 days. If no submissions are sent in, the change will be adopted.
The policy change comes as residents in Moonbi and Kootingal claim the level of consumption measured on their water bills has jumped by three to four times the usual amount.
However, Tamworth mayor Russell Webb denied there was any connection between these complaints and the policy change.
"What we're looking at doing is trying to reduce water consumption ... we have had many cases in the past where there have been excessive water bills come in and when you look into it there's leaks at that premises," Cr Webb said.
"If the meter doesn't go back to zero for at least an hour a night, then we get an alarm in the office and we can contact the property owner and tell them it looks like they've got a leak. It's then up to them to investigate that leak," council's Director of Water and Waste Bruce Logan said.
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