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Bulk water prices

In South East Queensland (SEQ), households and businesses pay water and sewerage charges to council-owned water businesses. These charges include distribution and retail charges, set by the council-owned water businesses, and a volumetric bulk water price, set by the state government.

The bulk water price is the price that council-owned water businesses pay to purchase water from the state government via Seqwater, the bulk water supply authority. Council-owned water businesses pass on the bulk water charge to their customers.

The bulk water 'price path'

From 2007 to early 2012, the Queensland Government made significant investment in the SEQ bulk water supply system. In 2008, the government decided to phase in bulk water price increases to cover the costs associated with the significant investment in the SEQ bulk water supply system. This was done by implementing a bulk water ‘price path’ that provides for annual price increases over a 10-year period, starting in 2008–09.

During the 10-year price path, bulk water prices will not recover the full costs of supplying bulk water. This means that Seqwater is currently selling bulk water at a loss, which is being funded by debt.

Each council had a different bulk water price at the beginning of the bulk water price path. By the end of the price path in 2017–18, bulk water prices will be consistent across SEQ. Because of their different starting points, some councils will reach the final destination price point before 2017–18. Once the destination price point is reached, prices will reflect the full costs of supplying bulk water. Prices are then assumed to increase each year by inflation only.

The years in which councils reach the final destination price point under current prices are:

  • Somerset: 2014–15
  • Logan and Scenic Rim: 2015–16
  • Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley, Moreton Bay: 2016–17
  • Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast and Redlands: 2017–18.

Bulk water prices for 2012–13

The original bulk water price path set in 2008 included annual increases of $296 per megalitre (ML) which, for a household using 200 kilolitres (kL) of water a year, was equivalent to an annual increase of $59 per household.

These prices were reviewed in December 2010, resulting in a reduction in the annual increase to $270 per ML (equivalent to an annual $54 increase for a household consuming 200 kL of water a year) for 2011–12 and 2012–13. The current bulk water prices are shown below (expressed in dollars per megalitre of water used).

Bulk water prices for SEQ councils, 2012–13

Council

Price
($/megalitre)

Brisbane

$2,057

Gold Coast

$2,225

Ipswich

$1,993

Lockyer Valley

$2,250

Logan

$2,383

Moreton Bay

$2,192

Redland

$1,472

Scenic Rim

$2,357

Somerset

$2,627

Sunshine Coast

$1,610

Bulk water prices (2013–14 onwards)

Following a review of bulk water prices in 2013, the government has further reduced the annual household increase for 2013–14 to $49 for a household using 200kL of water a year. This price increase does not take into account the one-off $80 rebate in 2012–13. The increase is equivalent to an annual rise of $245 per megalitre for both household and business customers.

The same price increase will apply for 2014–15, except for Somerset households and businesses—having already reached the destination price point, they will have a lower price increase.

The government has implemented a range of measures that have lowered the price increase including:

  • abolishing the Queensland Water Commission
  • removing the previous requirement to build additional infrastructure in the foreseeable future from the regional water security program for SEQ
  • merging the bulk water entities into one entity, reducing administration costs.

The tables below show the prices for 2013–14 and 2014–15 and indicative prices for the following 3 years. The prices for 2015-16 onwards (in grey below) will be set in 2015. The Queensland Competition Authority has been directed by the Queensland Government to recommend bulk water prices for 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018.

Note that in the tables:

  • Prices are expressed in dollars of the particular year (i.e. they include the impact of expected inflation on prices).
  • Redland and Sunshine Coast councils had lower initial bulk water prices compared to other SEQ councils. The indicative 2017–18 price increases for these councils will be revisited the next time bulk water prices are reviewed.

Bulk water prices ($/megalitres)

Council

2013–14

2014–15

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

Brisbane

$2,302

$2,547

$2,792

$3,037

$3,217

Gold Coast

$2,470

$2,715

$2,960

$3,139

$3,217

Ipswich

$2,238

$2,483

$2,728

$2,973

$3,217

Lockyer Valley

$2,495

$2,740

$2,985

$3,139

$3,217

Logan

$2,628

$2,873

$3,062

$3,139

$3,217

Moreton Bay

$2,437

$2,682

$2,927

$3,139

$3,217

Redland

$1,717

$1,962

$2,207

$2,452

$3,217

Scenic Rim

$2,602

$2,847

$3,062

$3,139

$3,217

Somerset

$2,872

$2,988

$3,062

$3,139

$3,217

Sunshine Coast

$1,855

$2,100

$2,345

$2,590

$3,217

 
Bulk water prices ($/household)

Council

2013–14

2014–15

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

Brisbane

$460

$509

$558

$607

$643

Gold Coast

$494

$543

$592

$628

$643

Ipswich

$448

$497

$546

$595

$643

Lockyer Valley

$499

$548

$597

$628

$643

Logan

$526

$575

$612

$628

$643

Moreton Bay

$487

$536

$585

$628

$643

Redland

$343

$392

$441

$490

$643

Scenic Rim

$520

$569

$612

$628

$643

Somerset

$574

$598

$612

$628

$643

Sunshine Coast

$371

$420

$469

$518

$643

Note: Figures are based on a household using 200kL of water a year.

Reducing costs

To reduce the cost of living, the government has committed to addressing the costs of supplying bulk water.

Merger savings and other cost efficiencies that have been identified by Seqwater have been reflected in the revised bulk water prices. The government is working with Seqwater to identify further efficiencies. Savings are expected to be delivered beyond 2013–14 as the consolidation of bulk water functions into a single bulk water entity will allow for better planning and decision-making.

Future role of manufactured water assets

A review into the operations of manufactured water assets instigated by the government has recommended a series of changes that will lower the cost of bulk water supply in the future:

  • The Gold Coast Desalination Plant will continue to operate in standby mode, with use now strictly limited to providing critical water supply security during emergencies. As part of this review, Seqwater has identified cost savings for this plant that have been reflected in bulk water prices set by the Queensland Government in 2013. The government and Seqwater are continuing to look at ways to further reduce the running costs of this plant.
  • The Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme has been shut down and placed in ‘care and maintenance’ mode. Moving to a ‘care and maintenance’ mode for the scheme has led to savings in bulk water costs, which were reflected in the bulk water prices set by the Queensland Government in 2013.

The State Development Infrastructure and Industry Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme.

Further information

See the Seqwater website for more information about the bulk water supply system.

Last updated
3 July 2014