The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of New South Wales has announced Sydney Water’s prices for the four years to June 2016, with the prices determined to go up by less than the inflation rate over the period.

This means the combined water and wastewater bill for a typical residential household (using 200 kL of water a year) is proposed to decrease before inflation by $29 (or 2.6%) by 2016. If inflation is 2.5% a year, customer bills will still only rise by $72 by 2016.

Sydney Water Managing Director Kevin Young said the company accepted the price determination.

Melbourne Water has announced a price freeze following a huge public backlash following its attempts to recoup $306 million in lost funds through a $88 per year per customer price hike.

Environmental conservation group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has released a report investigating the risks and impacts associated with pesticides in Melbourne’s drinking supply. The report focuses on the city’s Sugarloaf Reservoir, which supplies 1.5 million Melbournians, which, according to the FoE, has recorded 31 positive pesticide samples.

The Australian National University is set to host a $100 million world-leading supercomputer that will enable data-intensive research into climate change, earch science and national water management.

The South Australian Government is seeking nominations for appointments to the South Australian Aquaculture Advisory Committee (AAC).

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned that the country faces slipping back into the El Nino weather pattern, which will produce similar drought conditions that ravished the country during the summer of 2009.

The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) has announced it will support the formation of a single water and sewerage corporation in the state, subject to agreement by the State and set to a number of requirements associated with its governance.

The Queensland Urban Utilities Board has announced the company is committed to a price freeze for the 2012/13 year.

The Tasmanian Government has released the results from the state’s latest round of chemical testing of Tasmania’s rivers and streams.

The New South Wales Government has announced a budgetary spend of over $650 million over the next financial year to renew Sydney Water’s critical infrastructure and expand into new urban growth areas.

The New South Wales Government has announced the formation of a new Independent Water advisory Panel responsible for providing expert advice on securing long-term water supplies for the Lower Hunter.

Water buybacks are the most cost effective method of restoring environmental flows to the ailing Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), according to new research.

Economic modelling by Dr Glyn Wittwer and Dr Janine Dixon from Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) found money allocated to infrastructure upgrades would be better spent on investment in regional services.

Dr Wittwer said contrary to claims that buybacks would have a severe negative impact on MDB communities, the modelling found only small impacts on regional economies.

“Voluntary buybacks provide a financial option which farmers have embraced, selling over 1300 GL of water to the Commonwealth to date,” Dr Wittwer said.

The research found calls to roll back the buyback scheme and invest more heavily in infrastructure were at odds with the economic modelling. Investment in infrastructure was found to cost up to five times more per unit of water than buybacks.

“The attraction of upgrades to irrigation infrastructure is that they compensate the region with additional high security water. Even during drought, when water is more valuable, the upgrades were too costly,” Dr Wittwer said.

“There appears to be broad acceptance in the community to sink substantial funds into the MDB, but is that best way to spend the money?”

When compared to irrigation improvements, the model found every dollar invested in regional services would have three to four times the impact on jobs in the MDB.  For a fraction of the cost of irrigation upgrades, the same environmental outcome could be achieved by extending the buyback scheme.

“The message from the modelling is clear. Buybacks are the best way to achieve environmental flows,” Dr Wittwer said.

“Compared to infrastructure upgrades, investment in regional services is a superior form of regional support with three to four times the impact on jobs.”

The full report can be downloaded from the CoPs website.

The Federal Government has announced $469 million in funding to support four major new infrastructure projects in New South Wales.

Researchers at The University of Western Australia will investigate the use of geothermal energy to desalinate groundwater in WA.

The Federal Government has announced a $4 million investment to support the adoption of the eWater ‘Source’ platform to aid and streamline water planning and management across the country.

A visiting academic at the UNSW Water Research Lab, Dr Denis O’Carroll, believes that iron nanoparticles encapsulated in a rust-preventing polymer coating could hold significant potential for cleaning up groundwater contaminated with toxic chemicals.

The Western Australian Govenrment has announced a pilot project in the state’s Wheatbelt region that will aim to turn run-off stormwater into a useable resource.

The NSW Legislative Council’s State Development Committee has received terms of reference for an inquiry into the adequacy of water storages in NSW.

The Queensland Government has announced it is ‘closely examining all options’ on the future of the state’s Tugun Desalination Plant  in a bid to save taxpayer losses on the $1.2 billion project.

The South Australian Government has announced the state is offering up to 20 billion litres of water to be sold to the Federal Government for use as environmental flow.

The Western Australian Government has announced an extra $28 million in funding to investigate priority groundwater sources in a bid to keep up with the state’s rapidly expanding water demand.

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