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Average water bill could surge 50 per cent in next 10 years, Infrastructure Australia report warns

The average water bill could surge 50 per cent over the next 10 years, costing families at least an extra $600, unless urgent action is taken to overhaul the nation’s creaking water supply system.

A report to be released today by Infrastructure Australia warns bills could double by 2040 because water supplies, particularly in Perth, are running down and the water supply system needs to be upgraded and replaced.

Ageing infrastructure, drying conditions and growing populations were putting pressures on water supplies in each major city.

Those pressures would, according to modelling conducted by Infrastructure Australia, push up the typical water bill from $1226 this year to $1827 in 2027.

By 2040 the average bill could be as high as $2553.

Perth homeowners were particularly at risk of higher bills because stream flows into the city’s catchment had collapsed over the past 40 years, with the agency noting that while drought had eased in many parts of the country it was continuing in WA.

The report noted the biggest issue was finding a way to supply double the amount of water that now flows to major cities, going to the homes of three million extra people.

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies warned all people living in the nation’s cities would be hit in the hip pocket if action on water supplies was not taken now.

He warned that households could face “significant hardship” because of rising bills.

“Unless we act now, we will soon start to experience rising water bills, high taxes or a decline in service quality,” he said.

The extra $600 estimate from Infrastructure Australia would wipe out the Government’s claimed savings from its changes to the electricity market.

The agency found one way to save money, and reduce costs to water users, was to link renewable energy sources to major pumping and desalinisation plants.

It argues the Federal Government should next year set up a national urban water reform plan to use incentive payments to help State-based water agencies upgrade their services.

But it also argues that, longer term, the same water agencies may have to be privatised.

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