Hobart Water protests over meter plan

Water rates for mutual benefit: The argument that it was unfair for some people to use more water "ignores the fact that rates are a tax, which we all pay for our mutual benefit." Changes in a taxation system may be done in the name of equity, but it was only ever the proponents who benefited, Freeman added.

Usage stable over decade: "The current usage of water in Southern Tasmania varied between 36,000 and 40,000 megalitres a year and this has not increased over the last 10 years so we have adequate resources and the present infrastructure could cope with a significant increase in load if that is required in the future," Freeman said.

State faces rural supply hurdle: "There is no doubt that if the State Government is to access part of the $2 billion Commonwealth water fund then it will need to show that it can solve the problems of the rural areas who are without adequate infrastructure and do not have the rate base to provide it themselves.

Cooperation with needy councils: "I would suggest that there are two ways this might be done. The first is that the councils with inadequate infrastructure form an association with the water authority in their region and use that authority’s expertise to develop and implement appropriate systems to supply water and waste water systems to their areas. Hobart Water has already done this with Derwent Valley Council and is in discussions with the Glamorgan Spring Bay and Tasman councils to assist them with their problems.

New authority proposed: "A second solution is that a fourth water authority is created to take in all the councils which have inadequate infrastructure and that given the large geographical spread such an organisation would tender out its work to one of the existing authorities. This would prevent cross subsidisation and give greater control to local users.

Funding goal for deprived areas: "Both of these solutions would allow our State Government to present to the Federal Government a plan for upgrading the water supply for the 20 per cent with inadequate systems and thus access commonwealth funding with the minimum of disruption to the system, which works very well for the majority of the state."

The Mercury, 9/1/2007, p.37

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