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Miles Hampton with Premier Lara Giddings

There’s a warning Tasmanians could be facing hikes in their water bills as high as 400-percent.

The state’s water & sewerage corporations need to raise prices to pay for new infrastructure.

It comes as they prepare to merge and shed 30 jobs.

Reporter Brad Markham reports that since they were formed in 2009, the water and sewerage corporations have been increasing bills every year.

Now there are predictions it could get worse.

Miles Hampton, CEO Water & Sewerage Corporations:  “The increase in charges to the average customer will be approximately 100%, and at the extreme, 400%.”

Miles Hampton has told a parliamentary hearing that water prices need to rise to boost revenue for Tasmania’s water & sewerage corporations, to help fund new infrastructure.

He’s called on councils, regulators and the state government to come up with a plan to avert the looming prices (sic).

Hampton: “If we do not find a compromise, we will inevitably face the kind of increase that I have suggested.”

It comes at a time when Tasmanians are already struggling to pay their water bills.  Last month, more than 20-thousand people - or 10% of customers - had bills overdue by more than three months.

The unpaid accounts totalled over $15 million, down from $18 million in June.

Hampton: “As a result, our borrowings are higher than they otherwise should be, causing our interest expense to be higher.”

[Q & A from Ruth Forrest MLC, Andrew Beswick from Onstream, etc.]

The utility’s call centre has been swamped because of a tidal wave of inquiries about bills, forcing it to hire extra staff.

Hampton:  “Too many people were hanging up, having sat there for too long.”

One mayor (Tony Foster of Brighton) wants the law changed, so people who don’t pay their bills face tougher penalties.

Tony Foster: “...to allow the water corporations to be able to recover that debt through the sale of the house, and so forth.”

(and so on)

Watch here:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-06/water-bill-warning/4413792?section=tas