New water charges rules

By Country News

New water charges rules will be applied across the Murray-Darling Basin next year, improving price transparency and making it easier for operators to comply.

Starting from July 1, 2020, the changes will make the schedule of charges requirements clearer, simplify the calculation of termination feeds and simplify regulation framework by largely returning the responsibility of water infrastructure charges levied by on-river infrastructure operators back to basin states.

Most of the operators’ existing obligations will continue under the new rules.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a review that water charges rules needed to evolve with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

‘‘The rules were introduced at a time of significant reform within the Murray-Darling Basin and have now been in place for around five years,’’ the ACCC said in its report.

‘‘During this time, charging practices and water markets in the MDB (Murray-Darling Basin) have continued to evolve and develop.

‘‘The ACCC has found that there are opportunities to streamline the rules and reduce regulatory costs for infrastructure operators.

‘‘At the same time, customer protections and pricing transparency can be strengthened, which will help ensure a level playing field for irrigators and other water market participants.

‘‘Improvements can also be made to help ensure the rules remain relevant and robust as the rural water sector continues to evolve — particularly in terms of ensuring that the rules are able to continue to function effectively as operators’ customer bases change over time, and as innovative charging arrangements are introduced.’’