Pricing structure for residential stand-alone houses

Why is Unitywater introducing a new pricing structure?

 

What does this mean for customers in residential stand-alone houses?

 

What does the new pricing structure mean for my bill?

 

How can I minimise my bill?

 

Concealed leaks

 

Why has Unitywater introduced a new pricing structure?

Our customers said they wanted more control over their sewerage and water bills with a user-pays approach and we’ve listened. Under the new structure those who use less pay less than high sewerage and water users, and we have standardised usage charges across the Noosa, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions.

The new structure was introduced for residential customers in stand-alone houses on 1 July 2013.

Other customers were phased-in over two years, and more than 99.6% of Unitywater customers are now on the new pricing structure.

 

What does this mean for customers in stand-alone residential houses?

  • Two tiers for water usage 
  • Higher variable water usage charges
  • Households can use more water – up to 822 litres per day – at the lower, tier one price. 90% of residential customers use less than 822 litres per day
  • Instead of a single, higher fixed access charge for sewerage, there is a lower access charge and a sewerage usage charge to give customers some control over how much they pay for sewerage services
  • Sewerage usage is calculated as being 90% of metered water usage. This charge is capped at 740 litres per day for residential customers

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How can I minimise my bill?

The increased emphasis on user pays gives customers more control over a larger proportion of their bill. Adopting water-saving habits such as limiting your shower times, using water-efficient appliances, and ensuring dishwashers and washing machines have a full load before they are turned on will help reduce your bill.

Using water from tanks for household purposes is also an excellent way to reduce metered water usage. We do, however, encourage customers to check the plumbing arrangements for their tank. Some tanks are installed with a device that triggers automatic top ups from town water when they reach a certain level. This means customers could be using a lot more metered water than they realise.

Under the new structure, the less water you use, the less you pay in sewerage and water usage charges. Check out more water saving tips here.

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What does the new pricing structure mean for my bill?

It depends on the charges that previously applied in your area and your own water usage. The less water you use, the less you pay in sewerage and water charges.

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Concealed leaks

Customers who meet the criteria under our concealed leaks policy will continue to be eligible for a one-off adjustment of 50% of the excess water consumption during the period in which the leak occurred, up to a maximum of two billing periods.

They will also receive a rebate for 100% of sewerage usage charges incurred due to excess water consumption.

We have consistently encouraged our customers to check their water meter regularly to assist with the early detection of concealed leaks.

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Moreton Bay residential customers in stand-alone houses pricing?

 

Sunshine Coast residential customers in stand-alone houses pricing

 

Why are the access fees different across regions?

 

Why doesn't Unitywater scrap fixed access charges altogether and just charge for usage?

 

How will the size of my water meter / number of water meters on my property affect my water access charge?

 

How have the tiers for water usage changed?


Why did you decide on 822 litres per day as the threshold for tier one?

 

Why did you remove the third tier in Moreton Bay?

 

 

Why are the access fees different across regions?

This is due to the difference in the level of investment and value of assets in each region and the different fees and charges that existed under the previous councils. Under the new structure, we have standardised sewerage and water usage charges.

Why doesn’t Unitywater scrap fixed access charges altogether and just charge for usage?

Unitywater is required to provide a certain level of financial return to the Moreton Bay Regional, Sunshine Coast and Noosa Councils under the Participation Agreement with these councils.

We also need to ensure we have adequate revenue to maintain and upgrade our sewerage and water network, so we can continue to provide safe, reliable, around-the-clock sewerage and water services for our customers.

Any shift away from fixed costs in favour of variable costs involves some risk because consumption levels are not guaranteed. We have increased the proportion of variable costs under the new structure but due to these factors, we are unable to base our charges solely on usage at this time.

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How will the size of my water meter / number of water meters on my property affect my water access charge?

Water access fees are charged according to the size and number of water meters on the property. More than 97% of Unitywater customers have a meter size of 25mm or less and most have one meter. The standard residential access fee applies for these customers. Those with larger meters (generally large commercial and industrial entities) or multiple meters pay higher access charges, based on the number and size of the meter/s. We wrote to residential customers with multiple meters before the new structure was introduced to advise them that higher charges would apply and asking if they would like to have a meter disconnected to avoid paying more.

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How have the tiers for water usage changed?

A standard two tiers for water usage applies for all residential customers under the new pricing structure. A higher usage charge applies for water used above the tier one threshold of 822 litres per day (300kL per annum).

We have increased the amount of water customers can use at the lower tier one price to ensure that larger households are not disadvantaged. As a result, fewer residential properties are subject to tier two water usage charges.

Sewerage usage is charged under a single tier for residential customers. This charge is capped at 740 litres per day.

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Why did you decide on 822 litres per day as the threshold for tier one?

We set the tier one threshold at 822 litres per day (300 kL per annum) because it allowed usage tiers to be standardised across the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions, with an increase in the tier one threshold for both.

The vast majority (about 90%) of residential customers use less than 300 kL per annum, which is approximately double the average household use.

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Why did you remove the third tier in Moreton Bay?

For simplicity and uniformity, Unitywater has standardised charges for sewerage and water usage for all residential customers. This included reducing Moreton Bay’s existing three tiers to two.

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What is the sewerage usage charge?

 

Why are you charging me for sewerage usage?

 

How is the sewerage usage charge calculated?

 

Why is it 90% of metered water usage?

 

Sewerage usage charge for tenants

 

My neighbour has a large tank and they are contributing greywater to the network but not being charged for it. That doesn’t seem fair.

 

Can I avoid the sewerage usage charge if I put all of my greywater on the garden?

 

Why do sewerage charges make up such a large proportion of my bill?

 

I use my own tank water for toilet flushing/washing clothes/watering the garden. How does this affect my bill?

 

What if I am a recycled water customer?

 

What is the sewerage usage charge?

This is the charge for the amount of sewage (waste and greywater) you are contributing to the sewerage network via kitchen, bathroom and other household sinks, drains, toilets and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.

It pays for transporting and treating your sewage via Unitywater’s network of pipes, pumping stations and sewage treatment plants to the highest standards, so it can be released into the environment as clean, safe water.

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Why are you charging me for sewerage usage?

The sewage your household contributes to the network directly impacts on the cost of providing sewerage services. We’ve replaced the single, higher fixed access charge with a lower access charge and a variable sewerage usage charge.

The aim is to increase the emphasis on user pays and give our customers some control over the amount they pay for sewerage services. Under the old pricing structure, a pensioner or household contributing very little to the sewerage network paid the same amount for sewerage services as those contributing much more. Under the new pricing structure, low water and sewerage users pay less than high users and everyone has the opportunity to limit their water usage to keep their bills as low as possible.

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How is the sewerage usage charge calculated?

Sewerage usage is calculated as being 90% of the metered water that enters your property, charged at 66.7 cents per 1000 litres. This charge is capped when sewerage usage reaches 740 litres per day for residential customers. This means the maximum any household pays for sewerage usage is 49 cents per day and most households pay less than this amount.

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Why is it 90% of metered water usage?

The decision to calculate sewerage usage as being 90% of metered water usage was based on a combination of factors. Unitywater looked at different models currently used by other water utilities before determining our final pricing structure.

Setting sewerage usage at 90% of water usage allowed us to reduce fixed access charges for our sewerage and water services. We were also able to cap the charge for sewerage usage for residential customers at 740 litres per day. The cap limits the impact on high water users and anyone who may have a concealed leak on their property.

We appreciate that sewerage usage will vary according to individual water habits, rainfall and housing type. Those living in houses with pools, large gardens and irrigation systems are likely to use more water outdoors than those in small units with no gardens. However, without meters to measure individual usage, which would add further costs for our customers, we need to apply a single, average percentage across our customer base.

water saving

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Sewerage usage charge for tenants

Unitywater bills are sent to the property owner and arrangements between landlords and tenants are a matter for the parties concerned.

The Residential Tenancies Act states that a tenant may be charged for water if the property is individually metered (or water is delivered by vehicle), and if the tenant and lessor/agent/manager have agreed in advance how a contribution is to be calculated and paid.

There is also a requirement for the premises to be water efficient.

In these circumstances, tenants can currently be charged for the State Government’s Bulk Water charge and the water usage charge. They cannot be charged fixed sewerage and water access fees.

We have advised the Residential Tenancies Authority of the change to our pricing structure and enquiries should be directed to them.

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My neighbour has a large tank and they are contributing greywater to the network but not being charged for it. That doesn’t seem fair.

Just as some residents have chosen to invest in solar panels to reduce their power bills, those who have invested in a water tank will be able to save more under our new pricing structure. As there are no meters on the sewerage network, we cannot measure the amount of sewage each customer is contributing to the network, and retrospectively installing meters is not financially viable. We encourage all customers to adopt water saving habits and installing a water tank will offer longer-term savings.

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Can I avoid the sewerage usage charge if I put all of my greywater on the garden?

No. We appreciate that some households contribute less than 90% of their water usage to the sewerage network while others contribute more. This figure will also vary according to rainfall and housing type. However, without meters to measure individual usage, which would add further costs for our customers, we need to apply a single, average percentage across our customer base.

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Why do sewerage charges make up such a large proportion of my bill?

Sewerage access and usage charges directly cover the cost of:

  • Operating and maintaining Unitywater’s network of 5522km of sewerage pipes, 777 pump stations and 17 sewage treatment plants around-the-clock to treat sewage in the Noosa, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions. 
  • Collecting, treating and disposing of your sewage via this network to protect public health and the environment.  

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I use my own tank water for toilet flushing/washing clothes/watering the garden. How does this affect my bill?

Using tank water instead of metered water for household purposes reduces the amount you pay for sewerage and water usage and helps keep your bills to a minimum. However, we encourage tank owners to check the plumbing arrangements for their tanks. Some tanks have been installed with a device to trigger automatic top-ups from town water when supplies reach a certain level, so you could be using a lot more metered water than you realise.

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What if I’m a recycled water customer?

Recycled water customers are not charged for sewerage usage.

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    Did You Know
  • Approximately one pool in every 20 has a leak! Even a minor leak can result in a major water loss.  Under pressure a tiny leak can lose more than 3000 litres a day.