Why do Lismore residents pay more for water?
PROPERTY owners in the Lismore area pay more for water than their Northern NSW neighbours ‒ but the council says there's a good reason.
Local resident Daniel John raised the issue on social media this week.
"Based on 2016 Census data, Lismore has the highest unemployment rate of all (Rous County Council) constituent councils at 7.8 per cent, and yet Lismore pays the most for water," he said.
"In fact, Lismore pays over 50 per cent more than other constituent councils.
"And now Lismore is being asked to accept the huge ramifications of a mega dam in Lismore's LGA, to cater for sea-changers migrating to the coast."
Mr John's post was accompanied by a table from Rous County Council that showed an annual fixed fee of $287.20 for Lismore, versus $187 in Byron Bay, $204 in Ballina and $161 in the Richmond Valley.
The data, from the ABS' 2016 census, also showed that Lismore residents pay $3.91 per kilolitre (kl) of water in 2016, which is still the current amount.
Byron Shire residents paid $2.60 in 2016.
According to Byron Shire Council's website, residents currently pay $2.47 per kl for the first 450kl.
Phillip Rudd, Rous County Council's General Manager, said the price was not set by his organisation.
"While Lismore water users have the highest rate, Rous doesn't set the customer price, we sell the water to the four councils at the same rate; each council is then responsible to distribute it to all their users," he said.
A Lismore City Council spokesman said the council sets the water rates annually as part of the coming year's budget, using a cost-recovery model to ensure the city's water infrastructure is sustainable going forward.
"The rates are essentially made up of two parts - a fixed charge that all customers pay plus consumption charges which are based on how much water a customer uses," he said.
"Factors which are considered in calculating these charges are the amount Rous County Council charges us for the bulk water, and the cost of maintaining and expanding our infrastructure, such as pipes and reservoirs, while ensuring that we meet levels of service.
"Our reticulated water system was constructed in the 1920s.
"The system is now ageing which means we have significant maintenance and renewal costs."