Wannon Water awash with $8.6m profit

SERVICE charges comprised $36 million — or almost half — of Wannon Water’s $76.6 million revenue last financial year while usage fees on customer bills contributed $30.4m.

Revenue from usage charges rose 9.1 per cent to $30.4m, spurred in part by increased demand because of lower-than-average rainfall.

The corporation’s annual report showed a before-tax net profit of $8.59m — up by $3.7m.

A breakdown of the 13.4 per cent increase in service charge income shows customers paid $25.5m to have sewer and $10.6m for water connections while the 9.1 per cent rise in usage charges revenue comprised $23.8m for water and $6.5m for trade waste volume. 

Eighty-five per cent of the total 41,550 customers are residential, 11 per cent are business and four per cent rural. Price rises for the next four years are set to be smaller than in the past under a water plan approved in July by the Essential Services Commission.

Warrnambool householders face an average annual increase of $8.71 this financial year, while in Hamilton it has been calculated at an extra $6.81 and Portland $22.

“We have significantly reduced some charges, such as fire services, and we are simplifying the pricing structure by merging water and sewerage prices across our service area over the next five years,” the corporation’s chief executive Grant Green said. Overall sewerage charges brought in 42 per cent of revenue last financial year, volumetric water use charges 31 per cent and fixed water service charges 14 per cent. 

Total expenses decreased by $7m due mainly to a 9.1 per cent reduction ($1.92m) in expenditure on supplies and services and a depreciation and amortisation expense of $2m.

Chairman John Vogels said a $25.65m capital works program this financial year would be funded mainly through cash flow from operations, but new borrowings would be needed to fund the shortfall.

The corporation continued to find markets for recycled water with 1570 megalitres being used mainly for agriculture irrigation and industry — up by 18 per cent increase on the previous year.

Infrastructure was completed to supply recycled water for the reclamation plant which will reduce overall use of drinking water by about 200 megalitres a year.

Trials are continuing on using goldfish to treat sewage which will reduce operating costs and lower carbon emissions.

Total water consumption increased 1.9 per cent to 11,620 megalitres, but the corporation has a target of reducing residential use per person to 154 litres by 2015 — down from 177 litres per person in 2009-10.

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