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  • 'Water bills to double'

    'Water bills to double'

    By Melissa Jenkins | March 03, 2008

    CONSUMERS are more passionate than ever about saving water but instead of being rewarded for their efforts, prices are set to double in the next five to 10 years.

    Water conservation is "dinner table conversation'' and storages are higher than at the same time last year in all capital cities except Hobart, Water Services Association Australia executive officer Ross Young told a drought briefing in Canberra today.

    Demand for water continued to drop across the country, even accounting for restrictions, he said.

    "If you strip away the impact of water restrictions, there's an underlying trend for decreased water consumption,'' Mr Young said.

    Average daily summer water use in Melbourne during the 1990s was 1,631 litres, compared with 1,092 litres at the end of last month.

    Last year, Melbourne had the lowest per capita water consumption since 1934, while Sydney consumed the same amount of water it did in 1974, despite 1.2 million additional residents.

    Use of recycled and grey water had dramatically increased and rainwater tanks had been popular nationwide, Mr Young said.

    "It is a sign that people really want to take things into their own hands,'' he said.

    "There really is a strong water conservation ethos around Australia.

    "Water is a dinner table topic. People are quite passionate about water and they are quite concerned about water in the context of climate change.''

    But despite efforts to save water, bills will balloon during the next decade.

    "Water prices are generally going to double in Australia over the next five to 10 years as the industry funds the significant capital works programs - some $30 billion over the next five to 10 years just in new water sources for urban Australia,'' Mr Young said.

    Over summer months, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Darwin boosted their water storages, he said.

    At the end of last month, storages were at 100.61 per cent in Darwin, 66.4 per cent in Sydney and 61 per cent in Hobart.

    Melbourne storages were at 35.5 per cent of capacity and 34.8 per cent in Perth.

    The picture is mixed in the regions, however, with storages at only 9.5 per cent capacity in Ballarat, north-west of Melbourne, and 12.9 per cent in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, while Goulburn catchment, south of Sydney, is 65.6 per cent full.

    Brisbane has the harshest water restrictions in Australia, while Hobart and Darwin have none at all.

    Sydney had its first summer in 50 years without a day over 31 degrees Celsius in 2007-08, receiving 422mm of rain compared with an average of 298mm.

    Perth had more than 30 days over 30 degrees over summer and nearly all of its rain - 50mm - fell on February 7 and 8.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx