Water down Charges or Club Recreation will Dry UP

By on June 26, 2016


Tap water charges in the ACT have risen by over 400% in the last ten years, with community clubs paying more than double the price of a club located in Sydney and well above rates found in most Australian jurisdictions.

ClubsACT will make a submission to the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission this week, to establish a community price point for water.

ClubsACT Chief Executive, Gwyn Rees said clubs remain very susceptible to price increases and Canberra’s recreational amenities are in jeopardy.

“Clubs need to be recognised as a community asset in similar fashion to how Government recognises schools and churches.  With 63% of the Canberra population either overweight or obese, clubs play an essential role in keeping the community fit and active.  They need help in continuing to do this.

“Most Australian jurisdictions acknowledge the importance of the assets clubs maintain and apply a discount or different tariff structure where recreational infrastructure is available to the community.

The issue is the unreasonable two tier tariff structure employed in the ACT which is an enormous challenge for community clubs, who require large amounts of water to maintain important recreational amenities.

“Price signals are only effective where the user has some capacity to modify their usage.  For clubs, where the need to use certain amounts of water to maintain the integrity and safety of their courses, greens or field is simply a necessity, the price signal becomes price gouging.

“Clubs maintain over 400 hectares of urban green space for sporting use, in comparison to 300 hectares maintained by the ACT Government.  This includes six golf courses, twenty bowling greens, three cricket fields, five football fields and so much more.

Scott Elias, General Manager of the Federal Golf Club said they are proud to provide and maintain a place for golf and other outdoor activities but the Government is making it increasingly difficult to remain financially viable.

“We have spent over $1.2 million on irrigation ponds to remove our reliance on the communities tap water and we want to do more, but having to rely on tap water to maintain the course in times of need remains the clubs greatest threat.  A broken pump in February this year resulted in a quarterly tap water bill of $103,000.   This is simply not sustainable,” said Scott.

Despite decreased water usage at Ainslie Oval water bills have continued to increase significantly peaking at around $130,000 annually up from $30,000 ten years ago (see graph below).

Simon Patterson, Chief Executive Officer of Ainslie Group said, “We constantly strive to be more efficient in our water use, but if water consumption becomes even more expensive we won’t be able to manage.”

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