Busselton residents face a hike in their water bills after the Busselton Water Board approved a rates rise of 16 per cent.
The new prices, described by shadow water minister Fran Logan as “shocking” will be backdated from July 1 after appearing in the Government Gazette late last month.
Water consumption charges in all tariff tiers have increased 16 per cent, while the annual standard supply charge was increased by 3 per cent to $162.47.
Water Minister Bill Marmion said the rise was similar to those in the past two years, in line with recommendations from the independent regulator in the Economic Regulation Authority’s 2009 tariffs inquiry.
“The inquiry recommended price increases to allow for the costs of the maintenance and expansion of Busselton Water’s network,” he said.
“The combined annual service and use bill of a typical 300kL customer has increased by 10.8 per cent.”
Mr Marmion said the increase was not influenced by the chlorination of Busselton’s water supply, as that decision was made after the inquiry was published.
Mr Logan said he was shocked by the price rise, which was far more than customers faced in Perth.
“How can you justify a 16 per cent increase,” he said.
“The consumer price index is just under 4 per cent and the increase in Perth was under 8 per cent.
“There are many households and people in the South West who are struggling. They’re struggling with utility prices and now they’re being whacked with a 16 per cent increase.”
Mr Logan noted Busselton water prices were still lower than in Perth but said: “If you’re a struggling family in Busselton, it means nothing.
“Busselton is not supplied from water in Perth, it’s supplied from water just down the road.”
Mr Marmion said future prices would be determined from an upcoming ERA tariffs inquiry for the period 2013-14 to 2015-16.
“The inquiry’s recommendations … will be based on its review to ensure that only costs that are justified and efficient are passed on to customers,” he said.
Busselton Water referred questions to Mr Marmion.