Liverpool Plains Shire Council (LPSC) has decided to utilise $320,000 of outstanding Government payments following completion of the Quipolly Dam Safety Upgrade Project, towards achievement of NSW Department of Primary Industries Best Practice Water and Sewer Management (BPM) compliance.
“NSW local water utilities (LWU) are being strongly urged to conform to the NSW BPM. It is the key driver for reform of planning and management and for continuing performance improvement. There are 19 requirements of the framework which involve Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM), strategic business planning, regulation and pricing of water supply, sewerage and liquid trade waste. It also includes, developer charges and other considerations such as water conservation, drought management and performance monitoring,” said LPSC Mayor, Councillor Andrew Hope.
“To achieve BPM, Council needs to complete the IWCM, including a 30 year Strategic Business Plan (SBP) and 30-year Total Asset Management Plan (TAMP) which helps LPSC to review and update its long term financial planning. This plan must allow for the provision of appropriate, affordable and cost effective water supply and sewerage services to meet community needs, while protecting public health and the environment” he said.
“These plans and processes also involve the implemention of Best Practice Pricing, which include a determination of service and pricing levels based on long term strategic business planning and full cost recovery principles. This is a significant responsibility, it means changes to the way things have operated in the past and ensuring water supply security through infrastructure provision, demand management and integrated water cycle management.
“There is a cost to meeting all these requirements, but the catch is probably a bigger cost if we fail to implement them as soon as possible. Compliance with the NSW BPM framework is a prerequisite for payment of this $320,000 as well as an 'efficiency dividend' from any surplus of a utility's water supply or sewerage business to the Council's general revenue,” he continued.
“Compliance with the framework is also a requirement for receiving financial assistance from the NSW Government towards the capital cost of future water service infrastructure,” he added.
“These changes to pricing will not increase Council’s overall water income by more than CPI, however they will have an impact on the costs to individual water users, depending on their water usage. Generally low water users will be paying less and higher water users face a cost increase. Revised pricing structures will be implemented from July 1 2017.
“Council has determined a four year strategy to implement all the required changes for BPM and the necessary pricing structure to ensure compliance with all State Government requirements,” he said
“It is vital we keep these utilities under local control and not give cause or allow them to be swallowed up as has happened to electricity assets in recent years,” Councillor Hope concluded.