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Dirty tap water gripes add to bill woes
Charmaine New shares a glass of Australind water. Picture: Jon Gellweiller/South Western Times

Water bill complaints in Perth soared nearly 17 per cent last financial year, with Australind-Eaton residents complaining most about water quality, the State's economic watchdog has revealed.

The Economic Regulation Authority on Tuesday released its performance report on WA's major water providers, saying there had been a 16.7 per cent surge in the number of bill complaints in Perth about financial loss, overcharging, billing errors and affordability from 2009-2010 to 2010-2011.

But while Australind residents might be outraged about their brown, cloudy water, there was a 28 per cent drop in water quality complaints Statewide.

A Water Corporation spokeswoman blamed the rise in complaints over bills on the increase in water prices. "In 2010-011 water usage charges increased 17.7 per cent, however offsetting this increase the water service charge decreased," she said.

The spokeswoman defended the rise in water charges and said because the charges were now increasingly linked to water consumption rather than service bills, consumers had greater control over their bills.

The ERA report said that Australind and Eaton were hotspots for complaints over water quality - there were 21.9 complaints per 1000.

The Water Corporation spokeswoman said the vast majority of complaints in Australind related to discoloured water, which was caused by the disturbance of iron and manganese particles that settled in water delivery pipes.

The discolouration was an "inconvenience" rather than a health risk, she said.

Kingston resident Charmaine New said she was so concerned about the quality of the water, she relied on filtered and boiled water to drink.

"It started when I got a water bill which was just astronomical and it was unusually high and other residents said their water bills had doubled for no apparent reason," she said.

Mrs New said insult was added to injury when the water from her taps was brown and discoloured.