|Householders to be charged for each flush of toilet
The Sunday Telegraph | November 16, 2008
HOUSEHOLDERS would be charged for each flush under a radical new toilet tax designed to help beat the drought.
The scheme would replace the current system, which sees sewage charges based on a home's value - not its waste water output.
CSIRO Policy and Economic Research Unit member Jim McColl and Adelaide University Water Management Professor Mike Young plan to promote the move to state and federal politicians and experts across the country.
"It would encourage people to reduce their sewage output by taking shorter showers,recycling washing machine water or connecting rainwater tanks to internal plumbingto reduce their charges,''Professor Young said.
"Some people may go as far as not flushing their toilet as often because the less sewage you produce, the less sewage rate you pay.''
Professor Young said sewer pricing needed to be addressed as part of the response to the water crisis.
"People have been frightened to talk about sewage because it is yucky stuff, but it is critically important to address it, as part of the whole water cycle,'' he said.
"We are looking at reforming the way sewage is priced and this plan will drive interest in the different ways water is used throughout Australia.''
The reform would see the abolition of the property-based charge with one based on a pay-as-you-go rate and a small fixed annual fee to cover the cost of meter readings and pipeline maintenance, Professor Young said.
The pay-as-you-go rate would provide financial savings for those who reduce their waste water output.
Professor Young and Mr McColl will promote the plan nationally through their Droplet, a newsletter whose 6000 subscribers include state and federal politicians, water policy specialists and economists around the country.
Professor Young said a sewage pricing plan, like the one proposed, was already used in the US.
"In places like the City of Bellaire, Texas (a virtual suburb of Houston), they do it and the system seems to work,'' he said.
"As nearly all of (the homes in) mainland Australia's cities and towns already have water meters, introduction of a volumetric charge, such as that used in the City of Bellaire, would not be difficult to implement.''
Mr McColl said the plan had to be viewed in the context of "the crucial issues surrounding water resources'' in Australia.
"We should be prepared for the (drought) situation we are going through now to occur again, as well as the potential impact of climate change, so we have to act now for the future,'' he said.