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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser
    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Water reforms save money for householders


    Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    Water reforms save money for householders

    5 December, 2010

    Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser and Natural Resources Minister, Stephen Robertson, today announced major reforms to the south-east Queensland water supply grid to help reduce rising household water bills.

    “Now our dams are full, we have been able to review our entire water operation,’’ Mr Fraser said.

    “We understand the stresses on household budgets right now, that's why we have taken some tough steps to help reduce water price increases.

    “These decisions will consolidate operations and maximise efficiencies across the entire water grid. Total savings will be in the order of $18 million per year and these savings will flow on to the Government’s portion of household water bills.”

    The reforms are:

    ·The Government will revise down its 10-year price-path for bulk water sales to the council-owned retail water entities taking into account savings from not constructing Traveston Dam.

    ·The desalination plant at Tugun will be placed into standby mode.

    ·The region’s two bulk water authorities - Seqwater and WaterSecure - will be merged into a more streamlined, cost-efficient operation.

    "We promised water security for the region . . . and we have delivered on that. We are now delivering a more cost-efficient water supply operation that will result in lower bulk water charges than previously forecast,” Mr Robertson said.

    “While the flow on savings to household bills might eventually only be a few dollars, we know that every dollar counts.

    “These are tough decisions but the Government promised to do all we can to reduce our share of water price increases.’’

    Mr Robertson said the Government is responsible for only a quarter of the average household water and sewerage bills.

    While the Government sold bulk water to the councils this year for $407 million loss, councils continue to make huge profits from water bills through their retail businesses – Queensland Urban Utilities, AllConnex and Unitywater, he said.

    “Gold Coast Council has already acknowledged that they stand to receive a $94 million profit from AllConnex this year,’’ Mr Robertson said.

    “The State Government has stepped up to the mark, and I now call on councils to do the same – to follow our lead – and to help households cut their costs.”

    In 2008, the government published a 10-year price path to spread the cost of the water grid over time.

    Introducing efficiencies across the entire grid, including those announced today – and taking into account continued household water conservation efforts – has enabled that price path to be revised down.

    “This will deliver savings to every household water bills from now on. For a typical household, next year’s bulk water charge will be around $5 less than previously announced - $54 down from $59,’’ Mr Robertson said.

    “Additional savings will continue for every year and will grow to more than $30 per household by 2017.’’

    Placing the Tugun desalination plant into standby will save $10 million per year. Work on winding operations back to standby mode will begin later this month.

    The plant can come on line again within 72 hours if needed to maintain water supply or quality across the entire SEQ grid. It will return to fulltime operation if the region’s dam capacity drops to 60 per cent.

    Bulk water entities Seqwater and WaterSecure will be merged into a single supply authority from 1 July 2011.

    The Government has consulted unions about the merger.

    “We will continue to protect workers’ entitlements throughout the process,” Mr Robertson said.

    “There will be no forced redundancies of staff employed under awards or Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.”

    The merger provides a more streamlined and cost-efficient method of delivering bulk water and purified recycled water.

    “The job of providing water security is done. Consolidation of how we deliver our water is the next logical step,” Mr Robertson said.

    The merger will mean one of Bundamba’s two treatment plants will be placed into standby. The treatment facility at Luggage Point will remain at 100 percent while the Gibson Island plant will be placed into standby.

    All plants would be brought back on line if dam capacity trended towards the less than 40 per cent trigger point to add purified recycled water into Wivenhoe Dam.

    The merger will have no impact on the continued reliability or quality of household water supply across south east Queensland.

    Media contact: 0417 154 660

    Seqwater was given responsibility for the major groundwater sources and water treatment assets across the region, including all dams, weirs, aquifers and water treatment plants.

    WaterSecure was established to oversee the final delivery and operation of key climate-resilient supply sources – the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and Western Corridor Recycled Water Project.