Suggestions that Council-owned and managed water utilities in regional NSW have come under fire as being ‘not up to scratch’ are an attempt to promote privatisations of these services, Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West has said. The Board of the Central West Councils (Centroc) have responded angrily to claims in the recently released infrastructure Australia 15 Year
Plan that water quality in regional Australia does not meet appropriate drinking standards. “Councils do an outstanding job in providing high-quality potable water and sewerage services to their communities in regional NSW, despite increasing regulatory burdens; ageing infrastructure, population changes and rate-capping,” Cr West said.
The Infrastructure Australia report claims that water quality in parts of regional Australia does not meet relevant drinking standards and that reforms including amalgamation of local governments and shared service arrangements are necessary for local governments to meet their responsibilities.
“The suggestion that service levels could be raised through aggregation or a single water provider is nonsense and would do little more than further erode services by taking them out of the hands of local communities,” Cr West said. “We are already feeling the effects of the loss
of local management of our electricity. The last thing we want to see is our local water
utilities taken out of our control with the increased costs to our communities going out of the region,” Cr West said. He added that partnerships such as the Centroc Water Utilities Alliance are a great example of councils working together to ensure efficient, compliance-based delivery of critical water and sewerage services to local communities at a reasonable cost to ratepayers.
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