Barwon Water’s prices for the next five years are set to remain amongst the lowest for similar-sized water corporations nationally following the Victorian Essential Services Commission’s (ESC) approval of the utility’s 2023 Price Submission.
Barwon Water will be reducing prices in real terms from 1 July, protecting customers from experiencing the full impact of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price index (CPI).
Interim Managing Director Shaun Cumming said that while CPI is 7% this year, residential customers will experience an adjustment of 6% (less than CPI) in their annual bill from July 1. For customers using 160kL per year on average, this translates to an additional $5.42 per month for owner/occupiers and $1.80 per month for renters.
“By reducing prices in real terms, we have tried to shield our customers from the full impact of inflation. And 2023/24 bills for residential owner occupiers are 18% lower in real terms than 10 years ago,” Mr Cumming said.
Mr Cumming said support was available for anyone having difficulty paying their bill.
“Anyone who needs help to manage their water bill receives assistance from us,” Mr Cumming said, noting that anyone can experience financial stress at any time.
“Financial difficulties can affect anybody, and we urge our customers to reach out for assistance rather than dealing with the stress on their own. Our empathetic support team is here to assist and have a respectful, completely confidential conversation about our wide range of customer support options.”
The 2023-2028 Price Submission
The 2023-2028 Price Submission, approved by the ESC, demonstrates Barwon Water’s work to keep customer bills affordable, while also investing in critical water and sewerage infrastructure in line with customers’ priorities.
Mr Cumming said the 2023-2028 Price Submission includes the organisation’s response to the challenges of climate change, population growth, rapid technological development, equity divides and a transitioning economy.
“Since 2017, our aim has been to enable regional prosperity through the affordable, innovative, strategic delivery of our water and sewerage services.
“Our commitment to affordable bills, water security and improving the environment is on display in the 2023-28 Price Submission, which is available on our website, as are initiatives to use more recycled water, reduce energy costs and help customers save water,” Mr Cumming said.
The price submission is the outcome of extensive community engagement and the key deliverables have been guided by customer feedback over several years.
“Customer engagement has been an essential part of our price submission process, helping us to identify what our customers value most in terms of their water supply and sewerage services, pricing and support for vulnerable customers,” Mr Cumming said.
The engagement program helped to inform the four key customer outcomes against which Barwon Water will track its performance annually over the next five years. These outcomes are:
- safe, secure, sustainable water;
- innovative, reliable services;
- a healthier environment; and
- trust, value and affordability.
Addressing the four outcomes, the key investment highlights included in the 2023-28 Price Submission include:
- $4.8 million to customer support programs;
- $166 million to repair and replace ageing infrastructure;
- $214 million for new and upgraded infrastructure in regional growth areas;
- $54 million for upgrade to existing and new recycled water infrastructure;
- $18 million on dam safety upgrades;
- $13.4 million in digital metering and smart networks to enhance water efficiency and service levels;
- $7 million to improve catchment and waterway health;
- $6 million in renewable electricity and emission reduction projects; and
- $2.5 million on programs to support customers to save water.
“We know our customers want high quality services at affordable prices and we are fully committed to keeping prices stable, supporting our customers who need it the most and making investments for the future,” Mr Cumming said.
To read the price submission visit, https://www.yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/deliveringthefuture.
About Price Submissions
All Victorian water corporations, including Barwon Water, are required to develop and submit price submissions, generally every five years. Price Submissions outline the prices customers pay for water and sewerage, service standards, and infrastructure and operational investments over a defined period (the next period being 2023-2028)
Submissions are reviewed and determined by the Essential Services Commission.
The Essential Services Commission acts as an independent “umpire”, established by the Victorian Government, to regulate providers of essential services such water, gas and electricity so that their prices are fair and reasonable for consumers.
The Essential Services Commission approved Barwon Water’s 2023-2028 Price Submission in June 2023.