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Department of Energy and Water Supply

Urban water prices

This page explains how urban water prices are set in Queensland and provides urban bulk water price information for South east Queensland (SEQ).

South East Queensland

Providers of water and sewerage services

In SEQ there are 5 providers of water and sewerage services across the 11 local council areas.

In the Logan, Redland and Gold Coast areas, water and sewerage services are provided by the local council. The remaining 8 council areas are supplied by these 2 council-owned distributor-retailers:

  • Queensland Urban Utilities supplies businesses and residents in Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, and Somerset local council areas.
  • Unitywater supplies businesses and residential customers in Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa local council areas.

Prices for water and sewerage services

These 5 council water businesses all buy their treated bulk water from Seqwater, the Queensland Government's bulk water authority. The prices you pay for water and sewerage services are made up of 2 components:

  • distribution, retail and sewerage charges: set by your local council water business, Queensland Urban Utilities or Unitywater
  • urban bulk water charges: the wholesale price that Seqwater charges and appears on your bill as the 'state bulk water charge' or similar.

How urban bulk water prices are set

Seqwater, the bulk water supplier for SEQ for which the State is responsible, manages water supply assets and the natural catchments of the region's major water supply sources. This includes dams, weirs, conventional water treatment plants and climate resilient sources of water from the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme. A 600 kilometer reverse flow pipeline network enables drinking water to be transported across the Sunshine Coast to Greater Brisbane, to Redland and south to the Gold Coast. This interconnected grid for bulk water supply ensures greater water supply for SEQ and the pipelines are able to move water throughout the region as needed.

The SEQ bulk water price charged by Seqwater is set by the Queensland Government to provide Seqwater with sufficient revenue to recover the costs of providing treated bulk water through its extensive network of dams, water treatment plants and pipelines. The Government's latest price decision, for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018, is consistent with recommendations of the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA).

Until 2008, bulk water supply in SEQ was mostly a local council responsibility, with each council area setting its own prices. When the Queensland Government took over responsibility for bulk water supply in 2008, it established a 10-year 'price path' of annual price increases to gradually repay debt and achieve a common bulk water price across all SEQ councils. Because of their different starting prices, each of SEQ's 11 councils has a different price path to reach the common price.

Bulk water prices for SEQ councils ($/megalitres)

Council 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Brisbane $2,658 $2,748 $2,817
Gold Coast $2,681 $2,748 $2,817
Ipswich $2,594 $2,706 $2,817
Lockyer Valley $2,681 $2,748 $2,817
Logan $2,681 $2,748 $2,817
Moreton Bay $2,681 $2,748 $2,817
Noosa $2,272 $2,444 $2,616
Redland $2,162 $2,361 $2,561
Scenic Rim $2,681 $2,748 $2,817
Somerset $2,681 $2,748 $2,817
Sunshine Coast $2,272 $2,444 $2,616

Bulk water for average households ($/household using 156 kilolitres per year)

Council 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Brisbane $415 $429 $439
Gold Coast $418 $429 $439
Ipswich $405 $422 $439
Lockyer Valley $418 $429 $439
Logan $418 $429 $439
Moreton Bay $418 $429 $439
Noosa $354 $381 $408
Redland $337 $368 $399
Scenic Rim $418 $429 $439
Somerset $418 $429 $439
Sunshine Coast $354 $381 $408

Note: Figures are based on Seqwater’s advice of the average household water use of 156 kL of water a year (equivalent to 2.53 people using 169 litres a day each).

2015-18 SEQ bulk water prices

In June 2015, the Queensland Government announced SEQ bulk water prices for 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018. These prices were set in accordance with the State Government's 10 year price path policy and the QCA’s recommendations.

The QCA is an independent statutory authority that provides independent economic advice to the Government. In April 2015, the QCA published a report recommending SEQ bulk water prices for 2015 to 2018.

As part of its review, the QCA considered capital and operating costs to ensure that Seqwater's forecast costs are prudent and efficient.

The QCA conducted an open process for its review that included public submissions from industry, Government and the community.

The QCA recommended a 12% lower common price in 2017-18 than in the last review (2013), because Seqwater's operational and capital costs were lower than previously forecast.

The QCA also recommended that the Redland, Sunshine Coast and Noosa council areas be given a 2 year extension, so that they reach the common price by 2019-20 rather than by 2017-18.

You can read more about the QCA's review on Seqwater bulk water prices 2015-18 on the QCA website.

2018-21 SEQ bulk water prices

In May 2017, the Treasurer directed the QCA to commence the next review of bulk water prices to inform prices to apply for the 3 years from 2018-19 to 2020-21. The SEQ bulk water price path policy that has been in place since 2008 will underpin this QCA pricing review. The QCA will review water demand forecasts and other cost drivers.

The QCA is to provide the Government with its draft report by November 2017 and its final report by March 2018.

You can read more about the QCA’s review of Seqwater bulk water prices 2018-21 on the QCA website.

Local council water suppliers in the rest of Queensland 

Outside SEQ, local councils are responsible for setting prices for their water and sewerage services to households and businesses.

We have introduced a mandatory performance reporting framework which requires annual reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) by all water service providers. Read the report that compares the performance of all Queensland water providers in 2015-16 (PDF, 3.2MB). The comparative report will allow customers to check the performance of their provider (in providing water and sewerage services) against other providers. This transparency will provide an incentive for improved performance.

The Local Government Association of Queensland is the peak body representing all 77 local councils in Queensland and leads the development of policy and strategy on behalf of councils at a statewide level.

Find out more

Last updated:
28 August 2017
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