Water bills could rise by nearly $40 a year for some residents in south-east Queensland.
The Queensland Competition Authority has recommended two models to standardise the price of bulk water across council areas by the end of the decade.
In the first model, residents in the Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Scenic Rim and Somerset council areas would experience rises of $23.20 over the next financial year and an extra $12 per year for the following two years.
People living in the Sunshine Coast and Noosa areas would pay an extra $33.60 in 2018-19, $33.76 in 2019-20 and $12 in 2020-21.
But people living in Redlands City Council area, who are currently paying the lowest rate, would feel the pinch hardest, paying $38.08 more a year for the first two years of the increases, and $12 in 2020-21.
Under the second pricing option, the increases would be more gradual, but would still arrive at the same bulk water price of $3.122 per kilolitre by 2021.
“Eight of the councils in SEQ have already reached the common price, with the Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Redland City needing to make up some more ground,” Queensland Competition Authority chairman Roy Green said.
“The state government has asked the QCA to present two pricing options, one that would see the common price reached by all councils in 2019-20 and another where the common price would be reached in 2020-21.”
The price rises are being put in place to help pay down debt for the state government-owned company Seqwater, which was set up when drought conditions threatened to disrupt water supply in 2008.
Seqwater supplies all the water in south-east Queensland and its bulk water price sets the price for all councils which run their own water services, as well as water retailers such as Queensland Urban Utilities, which services Brisbane City Council among others.
The LNP opposition seized the recommendation to claim the government had broken a promise that water bills would not rise.
“The Palaszczuk government is lying to Queenslanders and is treating them like fools,” Deputy LNP Leader and Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander said in a statement.
“Labor knew this price hike was coming but buried its release until the middle of the Commonwealth Games.”
Speaking to media on Monday, Mr Mander said the government was “ripping money out of people’s pockets”.
“I am asking Palaszczuk to rule out any increases.”
The government will now consider the report and its recommendations.