- Created on Thursday, 09 August 2007 21:55
This is revealed in a report by the Total Environment Centre (TEC) - the result of a two year investigation of regulatory and pricing arrangements for urban water services.
TEC Urban Water Campaigner Mr Leigh Martin said “It should not be a secret, urban water management affects everyone. Adelaide residents simply have no way of knowing how the management of their water and sewerage services compares with that of other Australian cities or of having any input into the decision making process. There is also no clear method of assessing United Water’s performance or environmental impact”.
“While major progress has been made improving water management in Australia over the last decade Adelaide has failed to keep pace with reform in other states. The result is a system of pricing and administration severely lacking in public accountability and transparency,” Mr Martin said.
Price setting mechanisms have also been heavily criticised with lack of public consultation again being a major problem. And in other cities, the crucial operating licence is independently and publicly assessed, while United Water’s contract with South Australian Water is obscured by commercial confidentiality.
Water prices in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth are set through an open, public process conducted by an independent regulatory agency. In South Australia prices are proposed by South Australian Water and approved by the Government. The Essential Services Commission of South Australia’s role is effectively limited to inviting submissions on this decision and retrospectively reviewing the decision making process.
“Conducting a review and inviting submissions after pricing decisions have been made makes a mockery of principles of public consultation. Water customers are entitled to have a genuine say on pricing rather than a sham review process. Mr Martin said.
TEC has called on the South Australian Government to undertake a major overhaul of water pricing and regulation to bring it up to date with national best practice.
“It is clear that significant reform of water management in Adelaide is needed in order to bring it into line with national standards. Adelaide residents deserve the same degree of public accountability that water customers in other cities enjoy,” Mr Martin said.