Thirsty appetite to blame for big bills

WHILE council works overtime to upgrade failing infrastructure, Griffith households are being slugged 25 per cent more than the state average for water.

Griffith residents have been encouraged to conserve water or face hefty bills.

Griffith residents have been encouraged to conserve water or face hefty bills.

The NSW Water Supply and Sewerage Performance Report pitted 105 water and sewerage utilities against each other to reveal Griffith residents pay 25 per cent more than the state average for water and roughly 17 per cent more for sewerage.

According to the report, locals were shelling out $729 for their sewerage, well above the state median of $625 and the same goes for water bills which average $676 compared with the state median of $540.

Council's director of utilities David Tull said Griffith's insatiable appetite for water was to blame and the relative consumption charge matched it with the best.

"A typical residential water bill is made up of two components, charges and consumption," Mr Tull said.

"The figures in the report show we are the 10th highest residential user and we have the the sixth lowest consumption charge, clearly showing high Griffith consumption is the driver behind the high ranking in the average residential water bill not the charges.

Mr Tull said the council was passing the cost of a recent sewerage upgrade on to households, which was why those bills were so high.

"Council has just completed a $26 million upgrade of its sewer treatment plant which involved borrowing $22 million and the current charges include a $200 capital charge for the loan," he said.

"Based on that, our charges would be less than the state average if the capital charge was not in place."

Meanwhile, utilities staff have been run off their feet mopping up burst water mains on Whites Road, Goodfellow Place, Griffin Avenue, Jondaryan Avenue, and Willandra Avenue after a trial shutdown of a crucial main went horribly wrong.

"The 750mm main from the water treatment plant to the reservoirs was built in the early 80s by the public works department (and) unfortunately the valving design of that period has made it extremely difficult to take this main out of operation for maintenance purposes or maintain supply if a failure occurs.

"The cutting in of two new valves planned in June will allow us to maintain this line much more easily and direct flows around it when it fails. One of a large number of valves to be closed was a 750mm valve at Cutler Avenue (but) on shutting, the valve failed in the shut position and would not reopen.

"This has resulted in pressure spikes occurring when the water treatment plant starts to pump water into the system."

Council staff have repaired all the burst water mains.