The O'Farrell Government's water meter rip off: 18% cut to program that replaces faulty water meters


More and more Sydney Water customers will be ripped off by faulty water meter readings – after the O'Farrell Government today confirmed it has slashed funding for the program that replaces broken meters by 18 per cent this year.

During questioning from the NSW Labor Opposition in budget estimates this morning, Water Minister Greg Pearce confirmed funding for the Sydney Water Meter Replacement Program will be cut from $11.6 million to $9.5 million.

The Sydney Water Meter Replacement Program replaces damaged, faulty and broken water meters.

"The O'Farrell Government's funding cuts to the program that replaces faulty water meters means Sydney Water customers face being ripped off by incorrect water bills," Shadow Water Minister, Luke Foley said today.

"The Detailed Review of Sydney Water Corporation's Operating and Capital Expenditure reported that Sydney Water's biggest source of complaints is the accuracy of billing, and these cuts will only make things worse.

"When a home has a faulty water meter, that household has to pay a bill estimated by Sydney Water, which in many cases sees families being overcharged.

"There are cases where individuals have demolished their homes, only to receive water bills that are higher than ever.

"We already know Sydney Water fell 36 per cent short of its own target to replace 426,000 faulty water meters by 30 June this year.

"The Detailed Review of Sydney Water Corporation's Operating and Capital Expenditure 2011 shows that 153,843 homes and businesses missed out on having their faulty, damaged or broken water meters replaced under Sydney Water's Meter Replacement Program.

"We also know that 51,000 Sydney Water customers currently receive estimated bills - where Sydney Water makes an estimate of water usage rather than reading a household meter.

"Water Minister Greg Pearce and Director General Michael Coutts-Trotter were forced to admit that they had not even read this report during the estimates hearing today, and wheeled out false figures on meter replacements instead.

"Premier O'Farrell promised to put downward pressure on the cost of living, but all these cuts will do is see more households being overcharged on their water bills."