Guernsey Water is freezing customers’ water bills for the whole of next year and will take this opportunity to rebalance its water and wastewater charges.
This imbalance was highlighted when the utility published its 2017 Annual Report and Accounts last month. Guernsey Water is now confirming that there will be no increase in the vast majority of customers’ bills during 2019.
Since wastewater charges were first introduced in 2011 Guernsey Water has developed a better understanding of how much it costs to provide this service. This has shown an imbalance between charges and the cost of removing wastewater and returning it safely to the environment and providing customers with water that is safe and good to drink.
As things stand, the utility’s average metered customer spends £1.15 per day. 87p of this is a water charge for the supply of water that is safe and good to drink. However it only costs Guernsey Water 51p per day to provide this service. The remaining 28p is a wastewater charge, for providing effective drainage to take away wastewater and return it safely to the environment. But it costs Guernsey Water 63p per day to provide this service.
Steve Langlois, general manager of Guernsey Water said: “As a vital public service we believe in being as fair and transparent as we can to all our customers. Therefore our water and wastewater charges should better reflect the cost of providing each service.
“We are rebalancing our water and wastewater charges next year so that they relate more closely to how much it costs to provide our customers with these services. This will mean reducing water charges and increasing wastewater charges.
“This will be fairer for all our customers because they will pay for the actual services they receive.”
For most of Guernsey Water’s customers the bill will look a little different but they will not see any difference in the total amount they will be paying.
135 customers who have their own private water supply currently only pay for a wastewater service. They will therefore see an increase in their bill, as they will not benefit from the reduction in water supply charges.
“We have written to each of these customers explaining the changes we are introducing and have invited them to meet with us to answer any queries they might have,” said Mr Langlois.
An effective drainage system is vital to the public health of our island, as without an efficient, well maintained sewerage system wastewater would back up, causing foul water flooding of people’s homes, pollution and health issues.
Mr Langlois said: “To protect our environment and prevent these problems involves a lot of resources and significant ongoing investment. We have 4,810 cesspits to empty regularly, more than 150 kilometres of sewer, 66 wastewater pumping stations and our critical wastewater centre at Belle Greve. This is vital infrastructure that we have to operate, maintain and improve round the clock, every day of the year. It costs more to provide our wastewater service than it does to provide water that is safe and good to drink.”
The new water and wastewater charges are going to the States of Guernsey for approval in November and the new charges would apply from 1 January, 2019.