Tatura irrigator Hayley Jennings is backing a proposal that will reduce her water bill by about 10 per cent, saying she relies on the irrigation delivery system for her livelihood.
Ms Jennings runs a sheep and Angus beef operation on 100ha of irrigated land and is welcoming Goulburn-Murray Water’s (GMW) 2020-24 Pricing Submission.
The submission has proposed price cuts for most customers and a fee restructure that will provide a fairer deal for all. In a time when water is a costly resource, this fee reduction would make a significant impact on Ms Jennings’s business.
About 10 per cent of GMW’s customer base took part in an extensive engagement process to inform the pricing submission.
For Ms Jennings attending a customer forum in October to share her business needs and views on the draft plan was a valuable experience.
“I found a few things very interesting, for example, how seriously the people at the top at Goulburn-Murray Water are taking our concerns over pricing of the Infrastructure Access Fee,” Ms Jennings said.
“They are also pre-empting how a change in climate could mean less water in the system in years to come and they are working to make the system viable.”
She said irrigators and GMW have a shared focus with a shared goal for the future.
“GMW and irrigators have ended up in the same boat; the system needs to be viable in the long-term through affordability and efficiencies,” Ms Jennings said.
GMW Managing Director Charmaine Quick said through the engagement process, she heard first-hand what customers like Ms Jennings need for their business.
“Over and over customers said prices need to be fair and where there is a same service, there should be a same price,” Ms Quick said.
“To put it really simply, the efficiencies our transformation is generating means we need less money from our customers and that means under this water plan, we are able to lower fees.
“We are proposing uniform pricing across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District. This will be simpler and more transparent for customers.
“We are eliminating the differential between water users and non-water users so everyone pays the same price; irrigators, speculators and bulk water users.
“The result is a more equitable and simpler pricing structure.”
The ESC is seeking feedback from GMW customers and stakeholders during their review process. The public is invited to download the document and comment via a link at www.gmwater.com.au/yoursay. The consultation period ends on January 24, 2020.
The ESC will deliver its draft decision in March 2020. Further consultation will be carried out from March until April.
A final price determination will be made in June 2020, for implementation from 1 July, 2020. This will set fees and charges for the next four years from 2020-2024.