Lower fees for irrigators as new GMW pricing structure gets the green light

By Alana Christensen

Northern Victorian irrigators are set to see an average 10 per cent drop in Goulburn Murray Water fees from July 1 as part of a restructure of GMW that will see a $64 million reduction in costs over the next four years.

The new pricing structure, which has been approved by the Essential Services Commission, will see uniform pricing for gravity irrigation customers introduced from July 1, along with a drop in the infrastructure access fee and infrastructure use fee for gravity irrigation customers and a move to system pricing for all water share owners.

The changes are expected to deliver an average 10 per cent drop in prices from July 1 and a continued one per cent reduction for each of the following three financial years.

Service point feeds will be simplified by treating all meters the same way and a single customer charge will be introduced next year.

The changes will see a uniform price for all irrigation areas across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

Previously a two district pricing model saw five areas pay one set of fees while one area paid a high fee.

“This is a fantastic outcome underpinned by the ongoing transformation and now continuous improvement of our business,” GMW managing director Charmaine Quick said.

"As we continue to drive efficiencies and innovation across GMW through the consolidation and reduction of costs, we can now pass these savings on to our customers.

“Our latest pricing submission reflects a number of changes to our charges and how we apply our fees, without impacting our service standards. By implementing uniform pricing, we are now delivering a minimum reduction of $400 per year for all customers on their access fee per delivery share.

“Our customers have been clear in what they want. A fairer deal for all is the overwhelming message."

Minister for Water Lisa Neville announced a Strategic Advisory Panel in 2017 to start a transformation process for GMW to support it in meeting the challenges of a changing customer base, ageing assets and reduced water availability due to climate change and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

"This pricing decision is good news for Goulburn-Murray Water customers including irrigators, regional communities and surrounding business which rely on the agriculture industry," Ms Neville said.

“We will continue to work with Goulburn-Murray Water on its transformation – ensuring it will continue to improve affordability and sustainability for its customers.”

GMW is writing to customers to describe the changes they will see on their next GMW bill and changes to the fee structure over the next four years.