Most Victorian householders saw their water bills decrease by an average of $83 (8 per cent) in the last financial year, according to the Water Performance Report 2014-
15 released today by the Essential Services Commission.
Customers also generally continued to receive good levels of service with fewer water supply interruptions and customer complaints.
The report, produced annually by the Commission, examines the performance of 13 regional water businesses, three metropolitan retailers, and Melbourne Water for the 12 months to June 2015.
Commission CEO David Heeps said the decrease in water bills was mainly a result of water businesses identifying and passing on cost savings.
“Bill reductions were largest in metropolitan Melbourne with the average household bill falling by 10 per cent to $981. In regional Victoria, the average household bill fell by around one per cent to $1075.
“Some water businesses for the first time are charging their customers less than the maximum prices set by the Commission,” Mr Heeps said. Mr Heeps noted the rise in the number of residential customers who had their water supply restricted for nonpayment of water bills, mostly customers of Yarra Valley Water and South East Water.
“There has been a significant rise in the use of water restrictions by some businesses. Further, after a number of years of steady increase, the number of residential customers on payment plans declined by five per cent.
“Despite these changes, Metropolitan water businesses do appear to be delivering effective support for customers experiencing financial hardship; and in fact we’ve just released our Review of hardship measures taken by Metropolitan water businesses 2014-15 which analyses the support Melbourne’s water businesses are providing to customers experiencing financial hardship.”
“The report identifies early intervention as a priority and a focus on communicating with culturally and linguistically diverse communities through established community networks and structures. Feedback from financial counsellors and customer advocacy groups was generally very positive,” Mr Heeps said.
Other key findings included:
Water consumption remained steady for most of the state, with small increases in the hotter northwest regions. The statewide average household consumption was 159 kilolitres, compared with 160 kilolitres in 2013-14. The average household consumption for metropolitan Melbourne was 149 kilolitres, lower than the 188 kilolitres per household in regional Victoria.
Supply interruptions were down 3 per cent. The average Victorian household spent 26 minutes this year without water supply – down from the 29 minute figure in 2013-14.
Customer complaints to water businesses were down by 20 per cent from 13 492 complaints to 10 764. Almost 80 per cent of the decrease in complaints was registered by South East Water and Yarra Valley Water, who both reported a large reduction in complaints for water discolouration compared with last year.
The Commission has produced a two-page summary fact sheet for each water business showing its performance statistics for each of the past five years.