The West

Periods between water bills will be reduced from six months to two months under changes aimed at making it easier for people to pay increasing water charges.

Water Minister Bill Marmion announced this morning the State Government had slashed the frequency period for water bills after it became obvious many people struggled with the size of six-monthly invoices.

The shift comes after years of lobbying by the WA Council of Social Services, which has argued that long period between bills unfairly disadvantage needy people who are less able to budget.

The Government’s decision also brings water bills into line with power bills, which have been issued every two months for years.

In a recent submission to WA’s economic regulator, which was assessing the State’s water tariffs, the WACOSS said infrequent billing not only made repayments harder but also undermined efforts to reduce consumption.

“The largest existing barrier to effective demand management in clearly frequency of billing, with a six-monthly billing frequency cycle providing consumers with little opportunity to practically see how behavioural changes contribute to reduce water use,” WACOSS said at the time.

“The impact of seasonal factors on water use can easily over-ride or mask the outcomes of demand management activities depending on how the infrequent billing cycle corresponds with seasonal demand peaks.

“Infrequent billing is also the greatest contributor to payment difficulties experienced by low income and vulnerable people facing financial hardship.

“More frequent billing, together with targeted communications strategies and incentives are likely to be necessary to make the next step change in reducing water consumption.

“Given the pressure on Perth’s water sources, with climatic reductions, rapid population and demand growth, and a drying up of existing sources, the Council believes such action is imperative.”

The West Australian

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