Tips & Advice

Average Water Bills in Sydney, Illawarra and Shoalhaven

Typical annual water bill in Sydney and Illawarra:$1061.59 (non-drought) or $1228.42 (drought)
Typical annual water bill in Shoalhaven:$1221.50

Rain-filled dams in the Shoalhaven, Sydney and Illawarra regions have relieved the pressure on local water resources but residents might still pay a high price for water usage. 

New billing rules have just come into play, introducing some welcome reductions but also potentially steep increases. 

Take note of how you are billed for your water, as well as how much you use. 

Water catchment supplies for the Shoalhaven (Shoalhaven Water) and Sydney and Illawarra (Sydney Water) regions are looking good, but water management regulators have taken measures based on the harsh reality that drought and bushfire conditions will arise in the future. 

As a result, your household water usage will have even more influence on the size of your next bill. So, as you wash the car and put on yet another necessary load of laundry, it will definitely pay to have a good understanding of local water charges.

New pricing arrangements from Sydney Water (Sydney and Illawarra)

As of 1 July 2020, new charges set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), a state government regulator of utilities, will see Sydney Water consumer bills determined by dam levels.

IPART estimates that, overall, a typical household bill for Sydney Water Consumer “will fall by $80 or 7%”. 

The reduced bill estimates are based on a welcome decrease in the fixed charge components for water and for sewage/wastewater. IPART estimates for a typical household the fixed charge total will drop from more than $700 a year to about $580 a year ($40 for water; $549 for sewage/wastewater).

But that was the good news. From 1 July 2020 Sydney Water consumers will actually pay more for consumption. The charge now is $2.35 per kilolitre of water used (up from per litre) and that only applies when dam levels are above 60%.  

A trigger built into the new billing arrangement means a further increase in the consumption price whenever dam water levels fall below 60%. During these drought periods, the new consumption charge will be $3.18 per kilolitre.

The drought price trigger helping to safeguard water resources

IPART has explained the reasoning behind the new pricing arrangements. “The drought price provides stronger incentives for customers to conserve water when it is most scarce, without locking in higher prices when dams are full,” said IPART Chair Dr Paul Paterson in a media release.  It will also make greater capital expenditure possible for Sydney Water, “The prices will allow for a record $4.6 billion in capital expenditure by Sydney Water over the next four years.” 

The pricing incentivises Sydney Water consumers, “to conserve water all of the time while ensuring that customers only pay for the additional costs of drought when necessary”, Dr Paterson said. 

Breaking down your bill

Regardless of rainfall or drought, the more water your household consumes, the bigger your bill from Shoalhaven Water or from Sydney Water. It’s important to understand the bill from your water authority so you know what fixed charges you have to pay and where you might be able to cut back on consumption to save money.

Typically, each residence receives a Shoalhaven Water or Sydney Water bill quarterly, based on the metre readings that are taken every three months. The bill covers three main charges for residential metred properties: the usage-based water consumption charge; the fixed water service availability charge; and the fixed wastewater (sewage) service availability charge.

Pensioners pay a lower amount due to the pensioner rebate, as do owners of vacant lots, as they pay no water usage charges.

Water Consumption Charge

The water consumption volumetric user charge is levied for each kilolitre (1,000 litres) of water used and is based on the reading from a property’s water meter. This fee is charged after the water is used, unlike the water service availability charge. The water consumption charge is a single amount per kilolitre. This price is for metred properties and is the same for both single-family homes and apartments or flats.  

  • As of July 2020, the drinking water usage charge for the Shoalhaven area (Shoalhaven Water) is $1.75 per kL, for metred properties.
  • As of July 2020, the drinking water usage charge for the Sydney and Illawarra areas (Sydney Water) is $2.35 per kL, for metred properties, but willincrease to$3.18per kL if dam levels drop to below 60% for Greater Sydney.

Water Service Fixed Availability Charge

This fixed annual fee (levied as a quarterly amount at the time of meter reading) is for the connection, or ability to connect, to the drinking water supply. All residential properties are levied a water service fixed availability charge, typically based on a 20mm connection and the same for both single-family homes and apartments or flats.

  • For the 2020/21 financial year, the base water service charge for residences in the Shoalhaven area (Shoalhaven Water) is $83.00 per year.
  • For the 2020/21 financial year, the base water service charge for residences in the Sydney and Illawarra areas (Sydney Water) is $40.24 per year.

Wastewater service (sewer service) fixed availability charge:

This fixed annual fee (levied as a quarterly amount at the time of water meter reading together with the water charges if applicable) is for the connection, or ability to connect, to the wastewater distribution system. All residential properties are levied a wastewater fixed availability charge generally based on a 20mm service and the same for both single-family homes and apartments or flats.

  • The annual sewer service charge for the Shoalhaven area (Shoalhaven Water) residences for 2020/21 is set at $876 per year.
  • The annual sewer service charge for Sydney and Illawarra areas (Sydney Water) residences for 2020/21 is set at $549 per year.

A Typical Water Bill in Shoalhaven, Illawarra or Sydney

The NSW Water Supply and Sewerage Performance Monitoring Report compares prices across different water authorities and provides a Typical Residential Bill (TRB). This is the annual bill paid by a residential customer using the utility’s average annual residential water supplied. It is the principal indicator of the overall cost of a water supply or sewerage system.

  • As a guide, the average annual residential water consumption for Shoalhaven households in 2016/2017 was 150 kilolitres.
  • As a guide, the average annual residential water consumption for Sydney and Illawarra households (Sydney Water) in 2016/2017 was 201 kilolitres.

Comparisons of Typical Residential Bills

It is harder to compare regional water bills as the new pricing arrangement now applies to Sydney Water but not Shoalhaven Water households. However, it is possible to take the consumption figures of a previous typical year – i.e. the 2016/2017 figures – and apply the new charges to project what a typical Shoalhaven Water or Sydney Water customer might pay in 2020/2021. 

In this estimate, the Shoalhaven Water household uses less (150kL) than the Sydney Water household (201kL).

2020/21 Projected Typical Residential bill per annum

Water ChargesShoalhaven Water HouseholdsSydney Water Households
Supply – Average usage$262.50

[Based on typical 150 kL @ $1.75 per kL]
$472.35   (non-drought)
$639.18  drought
[Based on typical 201 kL
@ $2.35  per kL (non-drought)
@ $3.18 per kL (drought)]
Supply – Fixed Charge$83$40.24
Wastewater/Sewerage Service – Fixed Charge$876$549
TOTAL ANNUAL BILL$1221.50$1061.59 (non-drought) or $1228.42 (drought)

Water Wise Rules

The Shoalhaven Water and Sydney Water websites have information on the latest water-wise rules and recommendations. For more tips on what you can do, see our articles on conserving water around the home and other water-wise tips.

Check Your Plumbing

We don’t know what we the year ahead will hold, but Sydney Water users will certainly hope for continued good rains so dams don’t fall below the 60 % ‘drought price trigger’. 

Something you can control is water leakages in your property. Get in touch with us today to request a professional inspection of your plumbing system to ensure you are not spending too much on your water bills.

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