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3 April 2024

Council reworks water access charge for non-residential properties  

Revised calculation aims for equity  

Male Albert's Lyrebird in breeding display

The revised Water Access Charge calculation for non-residential properties will make it fairer for all water customers.

Tweed Shire Council is making changes to the way it calculates the Water Access Charge for non-residential properties to make it more equitable for all water customers.   

From 1 July 2024, some non-residential property owners might experience an increase to their Water Access Charge, as Council phases-in over the next 4 years a calculation based on the amount of water used at each non-residential property.  

The revised calculation only applies to non-residential properties including shopping centres and other retail premises, light industry, manufacturing, clubs, hotels, motels, caravan parks, aged care centres, retirement villages and nursing homes.  

Water and Wastewater Business and Assets Engineer – Water Efficiency and Connections Elizabeth Seidl said the existing charge, based on the size of non-residential water meters, had resulted in smaller water users subsidising the Water Access Charge for large water users.  

“In the Tweed, non-residential properties consume 27 to 29% of tap water, but historically they have contributed just 11% of total Water Access Charge revenue,” Ms Seidl said.  

“This imbalance has been due to the way the Water Access Charge for non-residential properties has been calculated.   

“It’s been based on water meter size, yet the size of a meter does not accurately reflect how much water a non-residential property is using.”  

In October 2023, Council resolved to introduce a more equitable way of calculating the charge. From the start of the 2024-25 financial year, the charge will be based on the amount of water that flows through non-residential water meters.   

Under the revised calculation, almost 75% of non-residential properties will experience no increase in the amount payable for their Water Access Charge. 

Ms Seidl said the revised charge would see non-residential properties contributing about 19% of total Water Access Charge revenue.   

“Under NSW legislation, all revenue received from Water Access and Consumption Charges must be channelled back into the Tweed’s water network,” she said.  

“Considering the amount of water used by non-residential properties in the 2022–23 financial year, about $896,000 in additional revenue would be raised in the fourth year of the phase-in period due to the change in calculation.   

“This is an estimate – non-residential property owners can minimise the amount they pay by reducing the amount of water used at their properties.”  

Council is now informing non-residential property owners of the change, encouraging them to use its online Access Charge Estimator at tweed.nsw.gov.au/access-charge-estimator for an estimation of the amount payable under the revised calculation.  

To support property owners who are likely to pay more, Council will minimise the impact by phasing-in the increase over 4 years.  

“The phased approach will support non-residential property owners to implement water-saving measures at their properties,” Ms Seidl said.    

“As Water Access and Consumption Charges for non-residential properties are now based on water use, by reducing the amount of water used at their properties, non-residential property owners will minimise their total water bills.”  

Council offers water-saving advice for businesses at tweed.nsw.gov.au/water-saving-for-business.   

“We’re encouraging impacted businesses to contact us for an initial chat to see how they could save water,” Ms Seidl said. 


Photo 1: Water Access charge
Caption: The revised Water Access Charge calculation for non-residential properties will make it fairer for all water customers.

Connection to Council’s Community Strategic Plan:

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Tweed Shire Council wishes to acknowledge the Ngandowal and Minyungbal speaking people of the Bundjalung Country, in particular the Goodjinburra, Tul-gi-gin and Moorung – Moobah clans, as being the traditional owners and custodians of the land and waters within the Tweed Shire boundaries. Council also acknowledges and respects the Tweed Aboriginal community’s right to speak for its Country and to care for its traditional Country in accordance with its lore, customs and traditions.
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