South Australian Household Water Bills to Increase for Water Infrastructure Improvement

South Australian Household Water Bills to Increase for Water Infrastructure Improvement

In response to the necessity to upgrade water infrastructure to accommodate the rapid growth and demand in Adelaide, the South Australian government has announced a plan to increase household water bills by $80 annually starting July 1. Premier Peter Malinauskas highlighted the significant allocation of $1.5 billion over four years to enhance SA Water's capacity to serve an anticipated 40,000 new allotments across the state. To balance this financial burden on households, the government is also committing $440 million to new water infrastructure projects and reorganizing developer augmentation charges to support SA Water's ability to meet the escalating housing demand.

Acknowledging the concerns surrounding the increase in water bills during a period of cost-of-living challenges, opposition spokesperson Michelle Lensink voiced apprehensions about the impact on all South Australians, including struggling small businesses. The bill adjustment, amounting to a 3.5% rise above inflation come July, aligns with a business proposal from SA Water submitted to the Essential Services Commission. Premier Malinauskas emphasized the government's efforts to minimize the impact on consumers by contributing $440 million, thereby reducing the anticipated bill hike from a substantial 32.5% above CPI to a more manageable 3.5% above CPI. Plans for additional water bill concessions and alterations to developer charges have been put in place as part of a comprehensive strategy to alleviate financial strain on residents and ensure infrastructure developments do not become prohibitive.

While the government implements measures to address the water infrastructure deficiencies that have hindered housing growth, developers also face changes in augmentation charges with caps introduced for greenfield and infill developments. By providing exemptions for certain housing categories like apartments, built-to-rent, community, and not-for-profit developments, the government aims to offer market stability and encourage investment in the construction sector. Premier Malinauskas pointed out that the government's decision to intervene and address the underinvestment in water infrastructure stemmed from the realization of the urgent need to secure adequate resources for current and future housing demands, a situation aggravated by the neglect from past governments of varying political affiliations in both metropolitan and regional areas.