SA Water and the District Council of Yankalilla have reached an in-principle agreement on a proposal for SA Water to take on ongoing responsibility of the drinking water supply network in Wirrina, and sewerage network servicing the whole council region.
The two parties have been working together to identify the best way to continue providing these essential services – which are currently council-owned and operated – to the local community.
SA Water’s General Manager of Customer Delivery Kerry Rowlands said they’re now looking to local residents and businesses to provide their view on the proposal.
"To enable us to take on operation of Wirrina’s drinking water supply, an investment from new Wirrina water customers is required to fund necessary upgrades to the network. These will bring the local treatment plant in line with our operational standards," Kerry said.
"We need majority support from people currently supplied through Wirrina’s mains water network, for the changeover in management to proceed."
The contribution would be in the form of a one-off payment – $4000 per house (or vacant land) and $2000 per apartment – to be made when ownership of the network transfers to SA Water. Business customers would also make a pro-rata contribution, the details of which SA Water is discussing with each business.
This one-off payment will increase by five per cent each year if a customer chooses to sign up after SA Water assumes management and operation of local water assets.
"Ongoing water usage charges for Wirrina water customers would move to SA Water’s state-wide price – which enables most of our customers pay the same price regardless of where they live or the actual cost of providing the service – which is lower than existing council charges," Kerry said.
"If SA Water assumes ownership of Wirrina water network, and a local resident or business owner chooses not to become an SA Water customer, they will remain a customer of the District Council of Yankalilla and will be subject to their existing charges."
A previous proposal for SA Water to assume management of both water and sewerage networks in Wirrina was put to the community in 2015 but didn’t proceed due to a lack of support.
The District Council of Yankalilla’s Chief Executive Officer Nigel Morris said this latest proposal is much more cost-effective and shows SA Water has listened to the feedback provided to date.
"Ensuring residents and businesses in Wirrina are provided a quality and secure drinking water supply at a cost they can afford, now and into the future, is vital," Nigel said.
"We know SA Water has the know-how, but it’s also important people understand the proposal when deciding whether or not to support it. We’ve given our conditional support, now we want our local community members to have their say."
The in-principle agreement between SA Water and the council also involves transfer of ownership to SA Water of sewerage services across the whole council area – which includes Community Wastewater Management Systems (CWMS) for Wirrina; Normanville, Yankalilla, Carrickalinga and Links Lady Bay; Myponga Beach; and Second Valley.
There will be no additional up-front charge to existing CWMS customers when transferring to SA Water.
"In fact, under SA Water’s pricing structure, most new residential sewerage customers will pay less than their existing sewerage service rates. A small number of people may experience an increase, and where this appears likely, we have contacted these customers directly," Kerry said.
"What we’re offering all new customers in the wider Yankalilla region a reliable drinking water supply and sewerage service that meet or exceed all relevant public health and other regulatory requirements; a 24/7 customer response service; access to bill payment support when necessary; and network maintenance and upgrades when required.
"We already provide water and sewerage services to more than 700,000 customers across South Australia, and we’ll use our expertise and experience to manage these services in Yankalilla and the surrounding region, safely and efficiently."
Once feedback on the proposal is received, SA Water and the council will look to update the Yankalilla community on the outcome. If successful, the transition of both the council district’s sewerage network and water supply in Wirrina to SA Water would come into effect on 1 January 2019.
This is subject to a number of pre-conditions, including majority support from the Wirrina community, and the District Council of Yankalilla resolving minor issues with existing support infrastructure as well as retaining ownership of the Wirrina Dam.
For media enquiries, please call or email SA Water’s media team:
Phone: (08) 7424 2477
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For all other SA Water-related enquiries, please call our Customer Care Centre on 1300 SA WATER (1300 729 283).