Challenge to council's reputation in water management rejected
  • Wednesday 16 March 2011

Sunshine Coast Council is concerned about damage to its reputation as a service provider after allegations made in Unitywater’s release of its 2010/12 pricing information, last Friday.

Deputy Mayor, Cr Tim Dwyer said claims that council had in some way been negligent in its maintenance of the Coast’s water and sewerage systems were unfounded.

"We refute such claims made by Unitywater," Cr Dwyer said.

"Council has a good reputation – in some areas delivering best practice performance in meeting its responsibilities regarding sewage treatment plant (STP) upgrades.

"Our planning for these upgrades as the Sunshine Coast Regional Council can be documented as far back as 2008 – only months after the amalgamation."

Cr Dwyer said that in October 2009 Council initiated a program to upgrade four of the Sewage Treatment Plants at a cost of $155 million.

"The government's decision to create a new water authority – Unitywater – means that the new authority must now assume responsibility for these planned upgrades," he said.

"Unitywater is well aware of those plans and agreed to take them on when the State Government transferred the ongoing responsibility of providing the region’s water and sewerage services

"It is good to see that Unitywater has taken these recommendations on board. We now expect them to just get on with the job and deliver."

Finance and Business portfolio, Cr Chris Thompson said that some of the savings that Unitywater claimed credit for could be directly linked to decisions of Sunshine Coast Council.

"Council had resolved for sewage to be transported to the closest treatment plant in the region, which may have been just over the border prior to amalgamation," Cr Thompson said.

Cr Thompson said that Unitywater had set its charges independent of any consultation with council.

"We became aware of the increases on the same day as the general public (Friday)," he said.

"The most concerning part of the increases relates to the 15.2% increase in the fixed sewerage access charge. We don’t agree with these increases occurring prior to the proposed delivery of the upgraded infrastructure."