Most property owners on the Gold Coast have just received their City of Gold Coast Water and Sewerage Rate Notice for January. Under Queensland law, you must receive a quarterly water bill. The City of Gold Coast issues their water bills in January, April, July and October.
Whenever water bills arrive, we get clients asking us why their Gold Coast water bill is always out of date. From experience, we can guarantee the average Gold Coast Water bill is still out of date. For example, most water bills issued in January were for water that was used between July and October. This is due to the contractors who read each water meter having set routes and timelines to read your meter so yes your usage charges are always at least two months out of date. This is why we suggest you monitor your water meter weekly and read how to do it on our page “How To Read Your Water Meter”.
For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly water bill are their sewerage and water services charges. If you look closely at your water bill you can see that you have the following charges:
- Sewerage service charges – sewerage access $181.03 per quarter
- Water service charges – water access $53.02 per quarter
- Gold Coast Water – water usage per kilolitre $1.09
- Queensland Government – water usage per kilolitre $2.91
In reality, even if you used no water, you would still pay for service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.
Average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property is not an accurate guide to your water use. In our experience, most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. Remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption but will also alert you to a potential water leak.
If you suspect a water leak, call Whywait Plumbing and ask for our leak detection service.
Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.
The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.
The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.
However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.
Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.
Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.
These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.
For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:
- Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
- City of Gold Coast distribution $1.09 per k/L
- Total water consumption charge $4.00 per k/L
The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:
- water access charge of $212.08 per year
- sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.
Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.
Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.
The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”
As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.
Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.
In August 2014 after a large number of issues where every other job we attended was a leaking water main, I concluded that all of them were caused by incorrect installation. In our monthly newsletter and in a blog I highlighted that negligence causes plumbing emergencies.
Since 2014 nothing has changed with polypipe leaking water main repairs being a constant source of work. The number of defective installations in new homes reinforces that a City of Gold Coast plumbing inspection is not a guarantee.
It is positive to see that the Department of Housing and Public Works issued Building And Plumbing Newsflash 558 on 13 March highlighting issues on the correct selection and installation of polyethylene (PE) pipe which is commonly called polypipe or blue line poly, used as a material for water supply installations. The QBBC also raised the matter in a blog Health and safety concerns relating to PE pipes, or ‘blue line poly’.
The issues we see every day on almost every leaking water main has been highlighted in the Newsflash with the Department stating “…..has become aware of issues associated with PE pipe including pipe leakage resulting from material splitting and holes developing in the material. Although the direct cause of these failings has not been determined, it is timely that the department issue advice on the correct selection and installation of the product.”
When installing a polypipe water main a licenced plumber must ensure that it is done so in accordance with the Plumbing Code of Australia and the referenced standard which is AS/NZS 3500.1-2015. These are not options but are law as per the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
The following clauses in AS/NZS 3500.1-2015 must be complied with in regard to installing any underground water main:
- Clause 2.3 Selection and Use of Materials and Products – this clause states that materials and products used in a water service shall be selected to ensure fitness for their intended purpose and goes on to list all those factors so that there is no doubt.
- Clause 5.2 Proximity to Other Services – this clause is very specific on hoe water service pipes are to be separated from any other underground services including gas or electrical and drainage pipes. The separation distances range between 100mm and 600mm depending on the size of the water service and the type of the neighbouring service. The specific requirements are laid out in clauses 5.2.1 through to 5.2.10.
- Clause 5.9 Depth of Cover – this clause once again is very specific in stating the depth at which underground pipes shall be with table 5.9 giving specific loading conditions and the minimum cover or depth which ensure the pipe is protected. In most cases the minimum depth is 300mm unless there are vehicle loading factors which then can require the pipe to be at 750mm depending on what the ground surface is.
- Clause 5.10 Bedding and Backfill – this clause is the one we see most commonly ignored on the Gold Coast and is what causes the entire leaking water main to require replacing. The clause is very specific in stating that the pipe must be surrounded entirely with a minimum of 75mm of compacted sand or fine grain soil with no hard edged object in contact with the pipe. Again very specifically it states the final backfill shall be free from rock, hard matter, organic matter and be broken up to ensure that there are no soil lumps larger than 75mm.
- Clause 5.11 Installation in Contaminated Areas – this clause states exactly what is a contaminated area and that a pipe laid in a contaminated area shall be installed in a water tight, corrosion resistant conduit.
The clauses above are quite specific on how your water main should be installed. They are specific requirements under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002. They are not options the plumber can choose to opt in and out of.
If you suffer a leaking water main and it is not installed as per the above clauses the licensed plumber installing it has done so knowing it is non-compliant and that it is reasonably foreseeable that failure and damage will occur over time. Very simply this is negligence.
Plumbing myths are money spinners for us at Whywait Plumbing. But we wish they weren’t and you called us for advice first.
So often many of our service calls to blocked drains, broken water main pipes or flooded houses are caused by common plumbing myths and could have been avoided.
Our plumbing technicians constantly see the following plumbing myths causing problems that should never have occurred:
1. You used chemicals from the supermarket to “clear” a blocked drain
Forget using chemicals such as Draino to clear a blocked drain because they never work. Even if by some miracle they do the problem will return that is a guarantee. There is no DIY solution to a blocked drain and its scary for our plumbers to work on a drain full of harsh and dangerous chemicals. If your drains are gurgling or slow to drain contact us for advice but please don’t waste money on chemical solutions.
2. You think the toilet is a rubbish bin as well
Don’t be fooled by labels that say they’re “flushable” because sanitary napkins, cleaning wipes, paper towel’s, toilet scrubbers, make-up remover pads or pet litter to name a few are in reality not suitable for flushing down the toilet. Very simply they don’t disintegrate quickly enough in the low flows of water flushed through the toilet and eventually will block your homes sewer drain.
3. You think advice from the nice man at Bunnings is all you need to fix plumbing problems yourself
Yes we know its easy to take a photo of your plumbing problem then go down to Bunnings and show the nice man there who will try to diagnose and fix the plumbing problem on the spot and sell you all the parts to do it yourself. We see this every weekend when our plumbing technicians go out to repair these DIY stuff ups. Remember the nice man or lady at Bunnings are not plumbers they are retail shop assistants with no qualifications. Calling Whywait the first time is frequently the cheapest option because as we constantly see DIY jobs are seldom repaired correctly and continue to give problems until we repair it.
4. You don’t have a leak protection or water monitoring system
These days a water leak protection system is not expensive, frequently costing less than the excess on your insurance claim. For Whywait to install a water leak protection system that prevents flooding with a main water shut-off should a leak occur in your water main, internal water pipes, hot water heater, dishwasher, laundry washing machine and more guarantees your home with a lifetime of protection.
5. Your hot water heater will last forever and never needs maintaining
Don’t be fooled into thinking your hot water heater will last forever because the average life of a Rheem or Dux HWS is 7-12 years. Yes you can extend their life by regular maintenance but you must have a regular preventative maintenance programme rather than waiting until a leak occurs because by then its too late. It is almost inevitable that your lack of maintenance will result in a leak while you are on holiday or while you are sleeping.
Remember plumbing problems never go away until proper repairs are undertaken.
Increases continue for average Gold Coast water bill in 2014
The average Gold Coast water bill continues to increase. Did you know another water bill will arrive soon, in October despite the fact you have not yet received your six-monthly water account for the first half of 2014?
Due to legislative changes as from 1 July 2014, your water account will be issued quarterly, usually in July, October, January and April of each year.
The rationale behind this law change is that quarterly bills will assist in monitoring your water usage plus the bills will not be as large as they have been previously when bills only came out every six months.
Tugun Desalination Plant that was constructed entirely from borrowed money that we repay for now in our water bills even though it only operates in “hot standby” mode when there is a critical supply emergency
For most clients of Whywait Plumbing that means you will be getting another bill from Gold Coast Water or Logan Water in October, albeit only about half of the one you will receive for the first six months of 2014.
Many of us remember when water was virtually free on the Gold Coast and the only time you got charged for it was if you used excess water over and above the very generous allowance that was paid for as part of your council rates.
However, cheap water is the past thanks to poorly costed projects such as the construction of the South-East Queensland water grid and the Tugun desalination plant.
The reality of today is that water is expensive. The only guarantee anyone can give you on the cost of water is that it will continually increase every year.
For Gold Coast and Logan residential property owners who use the average water consumption of 250k/L annually your yearly bill on the Gold Coast will be $1887.20 compared to Logan of $1939.60 which is a slight difference of $52.40.
Ultimately we all have to be vigilant in ensuring that the integrity of our household water reticulation pipes is maintained at all times because a small water leak left to flow can add up to thousands of dollars in a very short time. This is why Whywait recommend every home should have water leak monitoring installed.