Ovens Valley water licence holders question increased fees

By Rodney Woods

State Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy is continuing to work with upper Ovens River catchment water licence holders hit with increased fees and reduced terms by Goulburn-Murray Water.

Mr McCurdy said the licence holders — who include residents from Harrietville, Bright and Porepunkah — last week attended webinars hosted by G-MW where they expressed their concerns and presented a list of questions and desired outcomes to be considered by G-MW senior management.

“The concerns raised in the webinar were particularly around the new $700 licence renewal fee that is to be charged every five years on top of substantial annual fees,” Mr McCurdy said.

“They also questioned the alignment of services needed to be provided by G-MW with fees charged, mainly in relation to domestic and stock licence holders.

“These licence holders are simply paying for the right to draw a small amount of water for essential living purposes, with no supply service or support provided by G-MW.”

Mr McCurdy said the five-year licence renewal period proposed by G-MW was being imposed only on the Upper Ovens catchment.

“Other licence holders in the G-MW irrigation districts have a 15-year licence period for the same renewal fee of $700,” he said.

“Given the large commercial value of many downstream irrigation licences compared to small domestic and stock licence holders in the Upper Ovens, the customers have highlighted this situation needs serious justification and review.”

Mr McCurdy said G-MW had agreed to establish a working group to review the proposed $700 fee, five-year licence renewal period and high annual fees.

“Licence holders stressed they expect domestic and stock licence holders to also be involved in the review to ensure good faith and transparency, which G-MW have indicated they would consider.”