How do we prepare for tomorrow while being fair to customers today?

At the beginning of July, we released our Community Draft, which is our intended level of pricing for 2023-2028.

The feedback we received during the consultation period will now be incorporated with the final Pricing Submission submitted to the Essential Services Commission in September.

Our region is at a critical point in its water supply and demand. Significant intergenerational investment is required to prepare now for our changing future – particularly our growing population and the impacts of climate change.

We invite you to explore all the links below to learn more about our plans.

Welcome to our Community Draft

Our Community Draft - a summary

Coliban Water’s core business is to provide safe drinking water and waste water services for public health and environmental protection so our community can sustain itself.

While the services we provide underpin our region, a lot of what we do at Coliban Water is not highly visible. Every time we turn on the tap we get safe drinking water and we rarely think about what happens to our waste after we flush the toilet. Our water treatment facilities run 24/7 and our extensive network of pipes run underneath the 49 towns we serve. We manage nearly $2 billion in assets across central and northern Victoria.

Over the past year, we have been engaging with the community in setting our service goals and how we ensure fairness in customer water bills now and in the future.

For the first time in our history, we supported an independently facilitated ‘Community Panel’ (a ‘deliberative panel’) to ensure we had strong community participation in our planning for the future. The Panel completed five full days of work including the development of recommendations that have been considered and accepted by the Coliban Water Board.

The work of the Panel has guided the content of this document.

As the Panel discovered, we have several key challenges that we must address so that we may continue to provide these services to the standards that our communities deserve. Many of our assets are aging and need renewal. Climate change is impacting our region and we need to invest to ensure we have reliable water security. Our population is growing as more people move to our fantastic region to share in our great lifestyle.

We all fund Coliban Water when we pay our water bill. Determining what we pay for safe drinking water and waste water services requires careful planning.

A formal review process is completed every five years to ensure that we have the right approach to maintaining, operating and renewing our assets that provide water services to you.

We strive to ensure that your water bill is fair and that there are built-in measures to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. We carefully engage with our customers to strike the right balance between delivering fair prices today and preparing for the future.

We encourage you to review this information, ask questions and to consider this proposal. Ask yourself, ‘How do we prepare for tomorrow, while being fair to customers today?’ and share any feedback you have.

The decisions we make together will then be reviewed, cross-checked and confirmed by the Victorian Essential Services Commission. This independent regulator provides an additional check to ensure we are being fair, before prices are set and capped until 2028 (excluding adjustments for inflation).

Sincerely,

Who we are

Coliban Water is 100% customer funded. Our culture is centred around delivering for our customers now and in the future.

  • Our business is highly regulated to ensure we deliver water and sewerage you can rely on and trust.
  • A Victorian Government owned entity, our business is overseen by the Minister for Water and governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003, the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.
  • We are responsible to the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning and regulated by the Department of Health, Environment Protection Authority and Victorian Essential Services Commission.
  • We partner with a broad range of stakeholders, including Traditional Owners, local government authorities, and industry representatives.
  • Revenue from customer bills is invested back into the business and spent on services supplied to customers, building and renewing plant and equipment, paying for any water sourced and delivered to our network, and the costs of running our business.

What we do today

  • Our core business is the provision of safe drinking water, waste water and rural water services for public health and environmental protection so that the communities we serve can sustain themselves.
  • Water harvest, storage, treatment and distribution to customers.
  • Urban sewage collection, including trade water from industrial and commercial customers.
  • Sewage treatment, re-use and disposal of the reclaimed water.
  • Rural water supply.
  • Supply of recycled water to rural and urban customers.

What we know about tomorrow

  • Amplified by COVID-19, our region is growing at an unprecedented rate and is at a critical point in its water supply and demand.
  • Historically a reliable water source, the Coliban catchment is now one of the most unreliable due to climate change.
  • Significant investment in the Goldfields Superpipe, the purchase of water shares, and construction of the Bendigo Recycled Water Factory and recycled irrigation schemes, secured our water supply during the millennium drought.
  • During the current pricing period (2018 to 2022) we have reduced customers’ bills in real terms, excluding increases to cover the cost of inflation (CPI).
  • Our built structures, some dating back to the goldrush, are aging and important assets need to be replaced or upgrade.

The price you pay for water and sewage services is determined every five years through a formal process. Coliban Water is now consulting with customers and other stakeholders to set its prices for the period 2023–2028.

This careful process ensures the bills you pay are fair, there are built-in measures to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, and that we balance what’s required today with what we know will be needed in the future.

Learn more about where your dollar goes.

Understand more about your water bill.

Whether taking a shower, brushing your teeth, washing your dishes, cleaning your clothes, watering your garden, or flushing your toilet… on an average day you probably don’t stop to think about us.

Yet there’s so much more to what we do. These responsibilities may not be immediately obvious, but we take them very seriously.

Caring for the environment.

Caring for customers and communities.

Caring for the lands of Traditional Owners.

Caring for water and sewerage infrastructure.


We spoke to a range of customers just like you to review our performance during the 2018-2023 pricing period and to help us set a fair and balanced price for our Pricing Submission 2023–2028.

Some customers looked at how well we delivered services to them directly (eg. water pressure, sewer blockages and spills, water supply interruptions, prices, and the size of their bills). While others focused on our broader performance (eg. sewer spills to the environment, CO2 emissions, environmental stewardship and actions to mitigate climate change).

Following feedback from customers through our consultation process we identified five must-have focus areas that influenced our pricing proposal.

High quality water they can trust

Safe, healthy drinking water. Fit-for-purpose water pressure. Good tasting water. High reliability.

Be easy to deal with

Timely, proactive information about services, leaks and interruptions. The ability to interact with us when and where they want. eBilling and more self-help options.

Enhance the environment

Protect the environment and our catchments.

Preventative maintenance of sewers to reduce the number of spills. Reduced carbon emissions.

Greater use of recycled water and storm water. Education to improve customers’ water literacy.

Fair prices

Stable prices that are fair for all. Support for customers experiencing vulnerability.

Help make our region a better place to live

Promote local employment. Be prepared for growth. A liveable community with green spaces and recreational water access.

To provide the opportunity for deeper consultation, 32 people from across the Coliban Water region were selected to take part in a Community Panel.

Together, those involved represented a cross-section of customers and their views, and all generously contributed their time, experience and energy to the process.

The Community Panel came together for five full days over a five-month period to consider Coliban Water’s services and pricing.

They developed nine recommendations, which you can read here.

Meet the panel and read about their experiences here.

We're proposing a price increase delivered incrementally over five years to help customers manage the change.

This would see the average annual bill for homeowners increase $161 between 2023 and 2028. Prices are being maintained, or below, the national average water bill.

Read more about our pricing roadmap and see customer examples.

The average household can expect to see a increase of $0.70 per week, excluding inflation adjustments. The ability to phase-in new prices smoothly over five years will help customers manage the change.

We recognise that the inflation outlook for 2023 at the time of preparing this document is uncertain. Current forecast by the Reserve Bank of Australia suggest inflation to be back at 3% by 2024.

We are protecting and supporting customers experiencing vulnerability by doubling the assistance (to $570,000) each year.

This will be provided to customers who are unable to afford their water bill. The phased implementation of monthly billing will also ease affordability by reducing quarterly ‘bill shock’.

View some customers' pricing examples.

Calculate your usage.

We know circumstances change and so can people’s financial position. We care about our customers and our responsibility to assist those who are most vulnerable, including those experiencing family violence.

The ability to phase-in new prices smoothly over five years will help customers manage the change.

We’ve committed to doubling the level of financial support to $570,000 per year available to customers through the Coliban Assist Program. This program allows us to identify and work with customers who need short, medium or longer-term assistance.

Our team is equipped to work with customers in a supportive and confidential manner and assist with:

• Not-for-profit and community rebates, concessions, grants and hardship relief.

• Home visits to provide compassionate face-to-face contact for some of our most vulnerable customers.

• Payment arrangements that allow customers to make customised repayments off their bill, based on their personal circumstances.

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Rebecca McHutchison

Community Relations Coordinator

Libby Nuttall

Corporate Communications Officer

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