Council understands the increasing financial constraints residents of the Southern Downs Region are experiencing. From 1 July 2017 Council moved the Water and Wastewater Access charges off the annual Rate Notice and combined them with the Water Consumption Charges to make a Utility Notice. This change is to try and alleviate the financial load on ratepayers.
The Utility Notice is issued six monthly, in October and April each financial year and each Utility Notice will account for half of the annual Water and Wastewater Access Charge plus the water consumption charge for the applicable period.
For an average residential property connected to water and wastewater networks, the Water and Wastewater Access Charges can be around 40% of the balance on the annual Rate Notice. By splitting the Water and Wastewater Charges off the annual Rate Notice and applying them six monthly as a Utility Notice, a ratepayer is relieved from the burden of finding such a large amount of money at the beginning of the financial year.
From the date of the notice, you have 30 days to pay or enter into a payment agreement with Council.
Why your wastewater access charge/s may have changed
Council introduced changes to the wastewater pricing structure. This process will result in a consistent approach to the wastewater charges and pricing structures across the region.
Over the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years there will be a transitioning of the five wastewater supply areas into two supply areas.
Supply Area 1 will be properties connected to or able to be connected to a sewer treatment plant network in the areas of Stanthorpe and Warwick.
Supply Area 2 will be properties connected to or able to be connected to a CED network in the areas of Dalveen, Killarney and Wallangarra.
The water pricing structure in the 2018/19 Revenue Statement represents the first year of the transitional pricing.
How your utility notice is calculated
The charges on your notice can look complex and be difficult to understand. So to help you, Council has provided an explanation about the standard items that make up your notice and how these are calculated to get your total amount. Below you'll find information about:
- Water charges
- Wastewater charges
Your utility notice can contain two different types of water charges; a water consumption charge and a water access charge. These combined charges cover the costs related to water supply such as operating costs, maintenance, upgrade and expansion costs and depreciation. This pricing approach is widely used by Councils.
- Water consumption charge: Consumption is charged per kilolitre each 6 month period. The water consumption price covers the variable costs including treatment and transporting of water.For more details on water consumption charges go to the water meter readings and consumption article.
- Water access charge: The water access charge is a fixed charge and is charged each 6 month period. It applies to all properties that are eligible. This charge covers the cost of access to the water supply and maintenance of the water network.The charge is levied on every individual parcel in Council’s land record based on the number and size of the water connection/s (whether metered or not).A base access charge is also applied to each parcel within the water area that is not connected to the Council’s reticulated water supply system if the parcel is located within 100 metres of a water main and where Council is currently able to provide a reticulated water service.
The wastewater access charge is a fixed charge and is charged each 6 monthly period. It applies to all properties that are eligible. This charge covers the cost of planning and constructing Wastewater infrastructure (including interest and redemption charges incurred by Council) and the cost of operating, maintaining and managing the Wastewater system. The charge is levied on every individual parcel in Council’s land record based on the number of W.C. pedestals and urinals installed on each property (exceptions apply). A base access charge is also applied to each parcel within the wastewater area that is not connected to the Council’s reticulated wastewater supply system if the parcel is located within 100 metres of a wastewater main and where Council is currently able to provide a reticulated wastewater service.
The prices for all water access and water consumption charges can be found in the Revenue Statement (PDF 694.7KB).
What to do after purchasing or selling a property
Once all necessary paperwork for the sale of the house has been processed by the solicitors, they will send the settlement/transfer of ownership documents to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME). The documents are lodged with the titles office to change the name on the title deed for the property. DNRME will then inform Council of the change of ownership. This process can take up to 3 months.
The solicitors should organise for a property search from Council to note the rates and charges applied to the property and arrange for the meter to be read at the time of settlement to allow for adjustments to be made for water usage. This allows for the calculation of the proportion of the utility notice (made up of water consumption charges and water & wastewater access fees) that should be adjusted on settlement day.
Frequently Asked Questions
My utility notice is for a period of time when I was not the owner of the property
In most cases, when a property goes through settlement the solicitors will do an adjustment to accommodate water rates and charges. Council do not adjust water rates and consumption charges, and the current property owner will always receive the notice, even when the usage was from the previous owner. This is why in most cases, dependent on the solicitor, an adjustment is made at settlement. These adjustments can usually be found in the settlement statement. Otherwise, you can contact your solicitor to discuss the breakdown of water rates and charges.
I have received a utility notice but I’m no longer the owner of the property
Sometimes when settlement occurs during the rates issue periodthe notice is issued to the previous owner. Even though settlement has taken place, it can take us up to three months to receive notification of the new owner from the titles office. If this occurs, contact Council and the status of the change of ownership can be checked.
My water usage is higher than expected
If your water usage is higher than expected, it may be due to one of the reasons below. Receiving your utility notice is often a good prompt to your review your water use habits. Check out these water saving guides to help reduce your water consumption, and save money!
- Number of days of water usage: Your water rate notice may vary slightly each half year due to the number of days in between meter readings. You can calculate your daily usage by taking the number of litres used and dividing that by the number of days in the billed period (check the dates on your bill). You can then do the same for the previous bill to compare if there has been a change in water use.
- The season: Water use may increase during the warmer, drier months particularly if you have been watering a garden or lawn. Keep this in mind when comparing your current daily usage to the usage during the previous billing period.
- Increase in household size: If the number of people in your household has increased since the last billing period, your water use will probably increase too. Even short term visitors can cause a variation in water usage.
- Automatic watering: It's easy to forget your automatic watering system and it could be using water that is not required.
- Home renovations or improvements: During building renovations or other home improvements such as a newly laid lawn, your water consumption may increase.
- New appliances or fittings: Your water use might have increased if you have installed new appliances or fittings such as a dishwasher, washing machine, evaporative air-conditioner, irrigation, shower heads or taps.
- Leaks: Leaks can occur anywhere on your property and may not always be able to be seen. Find out more about how to identify leaks and how to do a water meter leak test go to the following 'Water leaks' article.