Environmental contributions are funds collected from water supply authorities under the Water Industry Act 1994 (the Act). Under a 2004 amendment to the Act, environmental contributions are collected to fund initiatives that seek to promote the sustainable management of water or address adverse water-related environmental impacts.
Water prices and tariff structures are approved by the state’s independent economic regulator, the Essential Services Commission (ESC) to reflect the efficient cost of providing water and sewerage services.
Tariffs and prices for the current year can be found on your water corporation's’ website. The ESC website contains information on the maximum approved tariff for your water corporation. Water corporations are able to charge their customers less than the maximum approved by the ESC.
For most residential owner-occupiers, their water bills are made up of water charges (both a fixed charge and a charge based on the amount of water used), and a sewerage charge. Customers in regional Victoria are charged only a fixed charge for their sewerage service, while customers of City West Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water are charged both a fixed charge and a usage-based charge for sewerage.
Tenants generally receive a bill from their water and sewerage service provider for only the usage component of these services. The owner of the property will receive a bill for the fixed component.
Owner-occupiers will generally receive bills for both the fixed and usage parts of the services they receive.
Why do we have fixed charges?
The cost of maintaining infrastructure for storing, treating and delivering water to each household remains much the same regardless of how much water the residents actually use. Retaining a fixed component of water bills helps achieve a balance between giving greater control to customers and meeting the revenue security needs of water businesses.
Inclining block tariffs
The current step tariff used by some water corporations was introduced in 2004, this provided a strong incentive for water conservation at a time when the available supply of water was falling. The tariff has three price levels where the price of water increases in ‘steps’ as a customer’s consumption increases. The stepped price signal provides customers with a focus on efficient water use, which is considered likely to lower consumption over the long term, delaying the need to construct expensive new water supplies.
More information on the charges that appear on your water bills can be found by contacting your water corporation or looking on their website.
Water Price Process
Water and sewerage prices in Victoria are approved by the state’s independent economic regulator, the ESC, to reflect the efficient cost of providing water and sewerage services. When approving prices, the ESC takes into account a number of factors to ensure that prices are kept as low as possible, while also ensuring these are sufficient to enable a water corporation to recover its costs or providing services to customers. It also takes into account customer interests.
There are other charges that appear on water bills for some Melbourne customers from time to time.
Waterways and drainage charge
Melbourne Water is the caretaker of river health throughout the Port Phillip and Westernport region. It is responsible for managing over 8,400 kilometres of rivers and creeks, floodplains and the regional drainage system. A key source of funds for this work is the waterways and drainage charge.
Visit the Melbourne Water website
The Melbourne Metropolitan Parks charge has been included on residential and commercial water bills since 1958, and is used to support parks, trails and public facilities across Melbourne, as well as Melbourne’s zoos, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance.
Visit the Parks Victoria website
Victoria’s water corporations provide a range of options for making and managing bill payments. You can contact your local water corporation or apply online through their websites for any of these options.
The Victorian Government makes available a concession to eligible pensioners and health care card holders of 50 per cent of the annual water and sewerage bill up to a maximum.
The Utility Relief Grant is available to eligible cardholders who are unable to pay their mains electricity, gas or water bill due to a temporary financial crisis. The grant is also available on non-mains energy or water bills. Visit the Human Services website
Your first port of call should be to talk with your local water corporation concerning any issues, if you are unhappy with an aspect of your service or if would like to discuss some other matter. There are many ways your water corporation can help you, or your water corporation should be able to direct you to an appropriate service or organisation that may be able to assist you.
If you have not been able to reach a satisfactory resolution with your water corporation, there are additional options available to you.
Energy & Water Ombudsman
The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) investigates and resolves disputes between Victorians and their energy and water service providers.
Essential Services Commission
The Essential Services Commission is responsible for regulating prices, service quality and market conduct for the entire Victorian water sector.
For further information on the Commission's role go to the Essential Services Commission website.