Hill End water and sewer utilities pricing

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service have changed the way charges are made for water connection and usage and for sewerage connection and use. The changes are effective March 2022.

National parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) manages, operates and supplies potable drinking water supply to paying connections to businesses/residences and non-paying connections to NPWS buildings or NPWS visitor infrastructure. All connections have water meters which are read and recorded quarterly for invoicing. Potable water is supplied under a Drinking Water Quality Assurance Program and regulated by NSW Health. There are significant obligations as a supplier of potable water relating to the quality of water released to the public.

Paying customers are connected to the sewerage system which is connected to both privately owned and NPWS tenanted properties. The sewerage system also supports NPWS visitor facilities and currently vacant NPWS owned buildings, some of which are earmarked for future leasing.

In 2014 an initial analysis and Scope of Work to develop an appropriate contemporary pricing structure to reflect partial cost recovery was developed by City Water Technology. The Long-Term Utilities Management Plan in 2015 identified the capital and recurrent investments required to maintain the drinking water and sewerage supply systems into the future. Significant upgrades to the drinking water system undertaken during the peak of the drought were based on recommendations of this plan. Long term water supply certainty from the aquifer is unknown – management measures aimed at moderating water use to better ensure ongoing water supply are essential.

In 2020 City Water Technology was contracted to evaluate the costs and revenues from the initial 2014 report and update the Hill End Water and Sewerage System Review Utilities Pricing Structure.

The report identified that water and sewer supply is operated at considerable financial loss and justified the need to implement a contemporary pricing structure to achieve equitable cost recovery based on review of charges applied by local government in similar supply situations. The stepped pricing structure applies a higher use fee for high water use in an effort to encourage customers to adopt sustainable water use practices.

What has changed?

The changes are intended to implement a utilities pricing structure that is consistent with the Best Practice Management of Water Supply and Sewage Guidelines August 2007, that is implemented in NSW Local Government Areas by Local Water Utilities. While NPWS is not classified as a Local Water Utility the Guidelines are the industry standard and have been used as the basis for this change.

The new cost structure is based on an access fee plus a usage charge with the usage charge increasing above a threshold to encourage water conservation. The access fees and usage charges for water supply will be adjusted over a 5-year period to achieve cost recovery from the current 8% to 13.6% by 2026.

Sewerage service charges are being adjusted to match equivalent Bathurst charges cost recovery of 13.6% commencing February 2022 and 15.9% cost recovery from 2022-23. The significant change in this instance is the move from charges per toilet to charges based on sewerage service connection and usage.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases are applicable in successive years.

A Customer Use Agreement is being implemented so that users are aware of shared obligations relating to the use of the system and the services that National Parks and Wildlife Service is providing.

Access and usage charges

We engaged City Water Technology to develop a utilities pricing structure that was consistent with other NSW local government areas. The services at Hill End were bench marked against other regional locations with similar types of supply and use to develop the most equitable and reasonable pricing structure. The new pricing structures are not intended to achieve full cost recovery due to the small number of connections and the associated prohibitive cost per connection if cost recovery were proposed.

Water supply

Previously, customers paid a quarterly access fee of $80.37, which included an annual water entitlement of 300 k/L. Under this pricing structure, Hill End water users incurred an annual water supply cost of $321.48 for an average water use of 168k/L. There was a 30% discount applied for pensioners.

The new structure charges have been set so that initially 8% cost recovery is achieved, which is the same as the previous charges achieved via the 300k/L entitlement. By 2026, the pricing structure aims to adopt similar total charges to Bathurst Regional Council ($547.96) based on an average annual water use of 168k/L which equates to 15.9% cost recovery. CPI increases apply to successive years after 2026–27.

New access and usage charges commence in March 2022

  2021–22 2022–23 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 2026–27 Onwards
Annual access charge $162 $187 $212 $238 $264 $291 CPI increase
usage Step (k/L) 151 151 151 151 151 151 151
Usage charge below step ($/kL) $0.92 $1.06 $1.20 $1.35 $1.50 $1.65 CPI increase
Usage charge above step ($/kL) $1.38 $1.59 $1.80 $2.02 $2.24 $2.47 CPI increase
Average total charge/connection $324.69 $374.15 $424.56 $475.94 $528.30 $581.67 TBC

Sewerage services

The previous sewerage service pricing was based on a quarterly per toilet charge of $68.06 with 30% discount for pensioners. There were no usage charges. Single toilet households were charged $274.24 annually. Properties with more than one toilet were charged per toilet quarterly regardless of whether the toilets are used throughout the quarter leading to inequitable cost sharing between full time and part time residents and businesses.

The revised sewerage pricing structure is based on water usage, assuming that approximately 80% of the water used is returned to the sewerage system.

New access fee and usage charges commence March 2022

  2021–22 2022–23 Onwards
Access Fee $272 $313 CPI increase
Usage charge $2.02 $2.33 CPI increase
Average total per connection $544 $626 TBC

Invoicing schedule

Charges increase at the beginning of July each year

1 July 1 October 1 January 1 April
Service fee invoice sent to customer mid-June and payable 1 July. Service fee invoice sent to customer mid-September and payable 1 October. Service fee invoice set to customer mid-December and payable 1 January. Service fee invoice sent to customer mid-March and payable by 1 April.
Water meters will be read the first week of July by NPWS staff. Water meters will be read the first week of October by NPWS staff. Water meters will be read the first week of January by NPWS staff. Water meters will be read the first week of April by NPWS staff.
Invoice for usage will be sent to customer 4 weeks post meter read. Invoice due date will be listed on your invoice. Invoice for usage will be sent to customer 4 weeks post meter read. Invoice due date will be listed on your invoice. Invoice for usage will be sent to customer 4 weeks post meter read. Invoice due date will be listed on your invoice. Invoice for usage will be sent to the customer 4 weeks post meter read. Invoice due date will be listed on your invoice.
How to read your invoice, Hill End Historic Site

Pensioner discounts

Pensioner discount of 30% is applied to both water and sewerage access fee charges. Pensioner discounts do not apply to usage charges.

Pensioner discount form

Water and Sewerage Service Agreement

A Water and Sewerage Service Agreement is signed by the department agreeing to provide water supply services and sewerage services to you and the property owner who agrees to pay for those services in accordance with the terms outlined within the agreement.

A Water and Sewerage Service Agreement is applicable to all property owner customers who are currently connected or are approved to be connected to the Hill End water and sewer services. This agreement details the service conditions and obligations of both the department and its customers.