Jane Erkens has handed a petition with over 600 signatures to the South Burnett Regional Council. (Picture: Tristan Evert)
Jane Erkens has handed a petition with over 600 signatures to the South Burnett Regional Council. (Picture: Tristan Evert)

Standpipe water price hike petition gets handed to Council

AT TODAY’S South Burnett Regional Council meeting Jane Erkens handed South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto a petition, signed by approximately 650 Nanango residents opposing the standpipe water price hike.

The South Burnett Regional Council made the decision earlier in the year to increase the price of standpipe water by 150 per cent, causing much public debate.

Jane Erkens addressing the South Burnett Regional Council this morning. (Picture: Tristan Evert)
Jane Erkens addressing the South Burnett Regional Council this morning. (Picture: Tristan Evert)

Mrs Erkens addressed the Council meeting this morning, saying while she doesn’t doubt the councillors sincerity to do right by the community, this issue will have the biggest impact on the vulnerable in the community.

“You promised to do the best by the community and so many people are struggling needing water, who shouldn’t be priced out of getting it,” Mrs Erkens said.

“By increasing the price of water you are not stopping those who can afford it you, are punishing those who can’t afford it, which is the elderly, pensioners and unemployed.

“I honestly don’t think anyone knows more about how precious water is than the people who live on small acreage blocks with no decent rainfall in years and not enough money to order a load.”

In a fact sheet released in July, the price hike was attributed to a lack of restrictions placed on how much water can be taken from a standpipe – particularly while supply restrictions are in place.

The justification for the severity of the increase has been broken down into four key points:

1. Ensuring that standpipes enable rural communities to access water in times of need for ‘domestic use only’.

2. Protect water security and reliability by ensuring that standpipe water is not used to as a continual and substantiative water supply for rural households.

3. Create a price point that encourages self restriction and ensures people only take what they need to live.

4. And create a fair price point that achieves all of the above.

Mrs Erkens said despite attending the Nanango Markets to gain signatures, majority of the people took it upon themselves to come and sign it.

“I would like to make it clear while we did attend the Nanango Markets to get signatures, we didn't hassle people and most people came into our office once they knew we had a petition going,’ Mrs Erkens said.

“I have written to all councillors expressing my views and to only have one response back was pretty disappointing.

“In my opinion this issue is going to impact the most vulnerable people in the community and if the Council can’t look after the most vulnerable than who is going to.”

The petition was received by South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto and CEO Mark Pitt and will now be assessed before action is taken.