Most property owners on the Gold Coast have just received their City of Gold Coast Water and Sewerage Rate Notice for January. Under Queensland law, you must receive a quarterly water bill. The City of Gold Coast issues their water bills in January, April, July and October.
Whenever water bills arrive, we get clients asking us why their Gold Coast water bill is always out of date. From experience, we can guarantee the average Gold Coast Water bill is still out of date. For example, most water bills issued in January were for water that was used between July and October. This is due to the contractors who read each water meter having set routes and timelines to read your meter so yes your usage charges are always at least two months out of date. This is why we suggest you monitor your water meter weekly and read how to do it on our page “How To Read Your Water Meter”.
For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly water bill are their sewerage and water services charges. If you look closely at your water bill you can see that you have the following charges:
- Sewerage service charges – sewerage access $181.03 per quarter
- Water service charges – water access $53.02 per quarter
- Gold Coast Water – water usage per kilolitre $1.09
- Queensland Government – water usage per kilolitre $2.91
In reality, even if you used no water, you would still pay for service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.
Average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property is not an accurate guide to your water use. In our experience, most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. Remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption but will also alert you to a potential water leak.
If you suspect a water leak, call Whywait Plumbing and ask for our leak detection service.
Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.
The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.
The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.
However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.
Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.
Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.
These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.
For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:
- Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
- City of Gold Coast distribution $1.09 per k/L
- Total water consumption charge $4.00 per k/L
The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:
- water access charge of $212.08 per year
- sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.
Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.
Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.
The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”
As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.
Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.
ZeroFlush waterless urinals are an increasingly widespread investment being made by architects, hydraulic engineers, facilities managers and building owners throughout Australia because they help conserve water.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, we concur that there are conflicting arguments about the amount of money they save. ZeroFlush waterless urinals do operate without flushing any water, so they will always save water first and foremost. But when making a case for their installation and the investment in maintaining and operating them the best evidence is they are environmentally and sustainably superior to every water flushing urinal.
Installation of ZeroFlush waterless urinals as a corporate responsibility effort should always be a consideration, but here at Whywait Plumbing our experience with ZeroFlush enables us to give you a performance guarantee.
On current Gold Coast Water charges we can guarantee installation of ZeroFlush waterless urinals will reduce your water and sewer discharge costs.
Contact us at Whywait Plumbing now to discuss how you can benefit by installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals as we can guarantee the following:
- the reduced capital cost to install as no expensive electronic water flushing systems are required
- reduced maintenance costs with no water reticulation valves to maintain
- simple and easy cleaning procedures with our natural enzyme cleaning products
- reduction in blocked drains and drainage traps
- all products used in the manufacture and maintenance of ZeroFlush waterless urinals are environmentally sustainable
Determining exactly how much water a ZeroFlush waterless urinal keeps from the Gold Coast Water sewer system is somewhat complicated. The number depends on a variety of arguable variables, such as the amount of water that a water flushing urinal would use, the number of people using the urinal and how often those people will use it.
A single water flushing urinal can use anywhere from 50,000 litres to 180,000 litres of water every year. Once again this is based on multiple variables such as the size of the building, the number of male employees and how many times they use the urinal each day. A building such as a factory with one bathroom facility, three ZeroFlush waterless urinals and 120 male employees, would save approximately 900,000 litres of water each year.
Calculating the payback period for installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals can be a complicated process. Using the average of $9 per 1,000 litres of water from Gold Coast Water and the example of an office with four men working in it, we can come up with some estimates.
Let’s say each man flushes a urinal 2,000 times per year or about 5.5 times per day, meaning that the four men flush the toilet 4,000 times a year in the office. With an older, water flushing urinal using 15 litres per flush will use 60.000 litres, costing about $540 every year just for water.
Ultimately, ZeroFlush waterless urinals save more water than money, but we guarantee that they are still worth the investment in sustainability.
In August 2014 after a large number of issues where every other job we attended was a leaking water main, I concluded that all of them were caused by incorrect installation. In our monthly newsletter and in a blog I highlighted that negligence causes plumbing emergencies.
Since 2014 nothing has changed with polypipe leaking water main repairs being a constant source of work. The number of defective installations in new homes reinforces that a City of Gold Coast plumbing inspection is not a guarantee.
It is positive to see that the Department of Housing and Public Works issued Building And Plumbing Newsflash 558 on 13 March highlighting issues on the correct selection and installation of polyethylene (PE) pipe which is commonly called polypipe or blue line poly, used as a material for water supply installations. The QBBC also raised the matter in a blog Health and safety concerns relating to PE pipes, or ‘blue line poly’.
The issues we see every day on almost every leaking water main has been highlighted in the Newsflash with the Department stating “…..has become aware of issues associated with PE pipe including pipe leakage resulting from material splitting and holes developing in the material. Although the direct cause of these failings has not been determined, it is timely that the department issue advice on the correct selection and installation of the product.”
When installing a polypipe water main a licenced plumber must ensure that it is done so in accordance with the Plumbing Code of Australia and the referenced standard which is AS/NZS 3500.1-2015. These are not options but are law as per the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
The following clauses in AS/NZS 3500.1-2015 must be complied with in regard to installing any underground water main:
- Clause 2.3 Selection and Use of Materials and Products – this clause states that materials and products used in a water service shall be selected to ensure fitness for their intended purpose and goes on to list all those factors so that there is no doubt.
- Clause 5.2 Proximity to Other Services – this clause is very specific on hoe water service pipes are to be separated from any other underground services including gas or electrical and drainage pipes. The separation distances range between 100mm and 600mm depending on the size of the water service and the type of the neighbouring service. The specific requirements are laid out in clauses 5.2.1 through to 5.2.10.
- Clause 5.9 Depth of Cover – this clause once again is very specific in stating the depth at which underground pipes shall be with table 5.9 giving specific loading conditions and the minimum cover or depth which ensure the pipe is protected. In most cases the minimum depth is 300mm unless there are vehicle loading factors which then can require the pipe to be at 750mm depending on what the ground surface is.
- Clause 5.10 Bedding and Backfill – this clause is the one we see most commonly ignored on the Gold Coast and is what causes the entire leaking water main to require replacing. The clause is very specific in stating that the pipe must be surrounded entirely with a minimum of 75mm of compacted sand or fine grain soil with no hard edged object in contact with the pipe. Again very specifically it states the final backfill shall be free from rock, hard matter, organic matter and be broken up to ensure that there are no soil lumps larger than 75mm.
- Clause 5.11 Installation in Contaminated Areas – this clause states exactly what is a contaminated area and that a pipe laid in a contaminated area shall be installed in a water tight, corrosion resistant conduit.
The clauses above are quite specific on how your water main should be installed. They are specific requirements under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002. They are not options the plumber can choose to opt in and out of.
If you suffer a leaking water main and it is not installed as per the above clauses the licensed plumber installing it has done so knowing it is non-compliant and that it is reasonably foreseeable that failure and damage will occur over time. Very simply this is negligence.
A combination of disposable wipes, paper towels and toilet paper blocking a drain because they were unable to break down in water.
Plumbing urban myths abound these days with social media and media sensationalism.
For the plumbing technicians at Whywait it’s frequently hard to get clients to understand factual information because they have Googled their problem and found what is, in reality, a plumbing urban myth that seems to fit.
Unfortunately, plumbing urban myths abound and below are a few popular myths and the real facts:
- Myth – disposable baby, kitchen or bathroom wipes and paper towels can be flushed down a toilet. Fact – The photo above is a pipe full of disposable wipes, paper towels and toilet paper that shows they don’t break down and degrade like toilet paper but pile up inside the drain and block your entire sewer drainage system.
- Myth – loud banging noises in a hot water service are a warning sign that it is about to burst and leak. Fact – unfortunately, there are no real warning signs that a hot water service is about to start leaking. If you do hear banging or rumbling noises coming from the actual storage tank it indicates that the loose minerals in the sediment in the bottom of the tank are causing air bubbles during the heating cycle and that in reality, your hot water service needs a 5 yearly service that includes flushing the tank of sediment.
- Myth – Thomas Crapper invented the toilet. Fact – No he did not invent it but made it work better with the flushing mechanism.
- Myth – Water flushes in a toilet clockwise in Australia in the southern hemisphere but anti-clockwise in Germany in the northern hemisphere. Fact – No the actual design of the toilet bowl dictates which direction water flushes as such a small amount of water is not affected by the Coriolis Effect.
Myths are often fun but the reality is plumbing urban myths can be dangerous if taken as factual which is why plumbing problems should always be diagnosed and repaired by a licensed plumbing contractor.
Not Compliant? It’ll Be Expensive!
Plumbing Costs for Correct and Compliant Work
Plumbing is expensive if not done correctly and compliantly. Quality plumbing is not a luxury but is a legal requirement under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
Cheap, illegal plumbing repaired by Whywait Plumbing after sewer odours were escaping inside an office because there was a 35mm gap allowing the odours to escape where a 65mm pipe had been pushed inside a 100mm pipe
Not everyone can afford a Lexus GS450h at $130497 or a BMW 7 Series 760Li 4 door Sedan at $141,200, but everyone can afford and should ensure they use a quality plumbing company. So if price is your only consideration, PLEASE phone another plumber as there are plenty of “cheap”, “competitively priced”, “discount”, “budget priced” plumbers out there who will do your work to a price but for your own sake please make sure they are:
- licensed plumbers by the Plumbing Industry Council
- licensed plumbing contractors with Queensland Building and Construction Commission
- insured for your protection with at least $10 million of Public Liability
However if you have come to the conclusion that your home is your biggest investment and you want to maintain your home to peak value then please phone Whywait Plumbing provided you want the work undertaken legally and compliantly with Australian WaterMark approved materials and highly skilled licensed plumbers who guarantee their work.
Please don’t phone us and ask for free quotes or free advice over the phone as no professional plumber can give you a price over the phone without an on-site diagnosis. Believe me, every plumbing installation is a one-off no matter how similar they appear.
Just remember if you use the cheap meeting the standard market price plumber ask to visually to see their plumbing license and their contractor’s license as they are required to carry them with them by law. In the end, these licenses are put in place by the Queensland Government for your protection, not for the plumber’s protection.
If you want cheap plumbing or free plumbing estimates or discount to meet the market pricing please do both of us a favour and save each others time by calling someone else.
By Gary Mays