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Revenue on tap: ACTEW selling water interstate

Date

Noel Towell

Canberra's water utility now has so much water at its disposal that it has been able to sell some of it back to interstate irrigators and farmers.

ACTEW Corporation's chairman Mark Sullivan told an Assembly committee yesterday that ACTEW was no longer just a purchaser of Murray-Darling Basin water, but had been actively selling in the market since last year.

The territory-owned corporation has bought 12 gigalitres of water across the border and agreed to a deal with the Snowy Hydro Corporation to release flows into the Murrumbidgee River, which could then be extracted at the ACT border, 150 kilometres downstream.

But Mr Sullivan told the multi-party Budget Estimates Committee that with the utility's current surplus of water, it was in a position to sell water to interstate farmers and irrigators.

''Our search for the rainless water option really got down to purchasing water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin, we have a current entitlement of around 12 gigalitres a year,'' Mr Sullivan told the MLAs.

''We're probably one of the first water utilities to activate it, we're getting used to what it is like for a water utility to be an active water trader.'' Mr Sullivan said the corporation was excited to be earning a ''return'' on the entitlements, which are bought on a ''use-it-or-lose-it'' basis.

''After purchasing we are hopeful that we will rarely want the water ourselves, so we're probably party now to establishing a different sort of water rights market,'' he said.

''It's temporary water but we can provide potential purchasers of that water with quite a bit of certainty about when they can get that water, because we will know two or three years in advance if we need to exercise our entitlements over that water.

''So we're a very attractive proposition for someone who doesn't want to hold their capital in water entitlements and are able to spend recurrent funding on water entitlements.''

The water boss expressed his frustration at continued delays to the territory's largest water security project, the Cotter Dam extension, but said the massive construction job still compared well against other Australian dams.

''If you're looking at a water storage project like a dam, you're looking at a decade from policy discussion intents to environmental approval, to construction,'' he said.

''Despite of all of our frustrations in terms of the length of time the Cotter Dam is taking to be constructed, it is one of the fastest dams in this country from a policy decision to a construction point.''

8 comments

  • Great, so when are they going to reduce our water rates in Canberra? They raised them during the drought to encourage people to use less water so we paid more for it and now there's too much water, we're still paying more for it.

    Commenter
    felixthecat@ozemail.com.au
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    June 19, 2012, 8:41AM
    • Couldnt agree more, we are now paying so much for water, water which we use so carefully, our consumption is down and the price has gone way up. We conserve it for what... for ACTEW to make a profit by selling it interstate. The cheek!!

      Commenter
      Megg
      Date and time
      June 19, 2012, 9:50PM
  • You wonder how successful ACTEW would be if was selling a product that required a marketing effort to attract buyers.

    If a retailer behaved like ACTEW they would be out of business.

    Commenter
    Fido
    Date and time
    June 19, 2012, 8:54AM
    • When we were desperately short of water, (not so long ago) we were burdened with hefty water usage charges to compensate ACTEW for lost revenue due to the severe restrictions.
      Now that ACTEW is in a position to earn revenue through the sale of surplus water it is to be hoped that they will refund some of that money to ratepayers.
      I"ll bet a quid they don't...!

      Commenter
      Ernie
      Location
      Holt
      Date and time
      June 19, 2012, 9:37AM
      • With an excess of water will ACTEW remove the current water restrictions .(greens propaganda for so called water conservation measures)

        Commenter
        old goat
        Location
        canberra
        Date and time
        June 19, 2012, 12:34PM
        • And this wouldn’t of come about without Canberran’s doing as they were asked and saving water, how about ACTEW cutting us some slack on the service charges, it wont happen, the focus is profits and bungled damn projetcs.

          Commenter
          Letto
          Location
          CBR
          Date and time
          June 19, 2012, 12:41PM
          • hate to sound parochial, but I think that's OUR water ACTEW is flogging off..where's OUR return??

            Commenter
            Dimpy
            Location
            Cooma
            Date and time
            June 19, 2012, 1:31PM
            • Lower the price back to the consumer and kick the beegeez out of his yearly bonus, doubt that.

              Commenter
              Nitro Gangster
              Location
              ACT
              Date and time
              June 19, 2012, 4:04PM
              Comments are now closed
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