Later this year, we’ll be making some important changes to how we charge customers for water and sewerage services as part of our Simpler Pricing initiative.

From Friday 1 October 2021, we’ll be streamlining and simplifying our tariffs so they’re:

  • more equitable, 
  • applied consistently across our service regions,
  • simpler to understand, and
  • more aligned to customer needs.

Simpler Pricing will primarily apply to Non-residential or Business customers and will see us join many other major local, interstate and international water utilities by ensuring our tariffs better reflect a user pays approach.

On this page:

What is User Pays?

User pays is a sustainable, globally recognised resource pricing approach where customers who use or benefit more from water and sewerage services pay more than customers who use or benefit less.

As custodians of a precious natural resource, we believe it’s the best way to charge for essential services.

Why change?

We inherited five different pricing and tariff structures from five different local councils. Simpler Pricing will ensure tariffs are applied consistently across council regions. We’ll also be streamlining our total number of tariffs from more than 400 to less than 100, making them simpler to understand and allowing us to serve you more efficiently.

What are the changes? 

Some of the key changes for non-residential customers are outlined in the table below.

CURRENT STATE (NOW)

GENERAL

Brisbane, Ipswich, Somerset (Esk) & Somerset (Kilcoy)
  • Charges apply on a per account basis.
  • Billed per day, in arrears. 
Scenic Rim & Lockyer Valley
  • Charges apply on a per lot basis.
  • Billed per day, in arrears. 

WATER USAGE

All regions
  • A variable charge based on how much water your property uses between water meter reads.
  • Calculated on a per kilolitre (1kL = 1,000L) basis.
  • Water usage charges are tiered, so the more you use, the more you pay.
  • Tier 1 charges apply to water used up to 74kL per quarter and Tier 2 charges apply to water used over 74kL per quarter.

STATE BULK WATER CHARGE

All regions
  • Set and controlled by the State Government.
  • We pass this charge directly through to customers on their bills without any mark up. 

WATER SERVICES

Brisbane, Lockyer Valley, Somerset (Esk) & Somerset (Kilcoy)
  • A fixed charge that contributes to building new infrastructure and operating and maintaining our water network in your region.

Ipswich & Scenic Rim
  • A fixed charge based on the size and number of water meters servicing your property 

SEWERAGE SERVICES

Brisbane
  • A fixed charge based on the number of pedestals (toilet, urinal, bedpan sanitiser, slop sink, etc) servicing your property.
  • Charges are tiered so different prices apply for 2-8, 9-12 and 13+ pedestals.
Ipswich, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley & Somerset (Kilcoy)
  • A fixed charge based on the number of pedestals (toilet, urinal, bedpan sanitiser, slop sink, etc.) servicing your property.
Somerset (Esk) 
  •  A fixed charge for the first pedestal (toilet, urinal, bedpan sanitiser, slop sink, etc.) servicing your property and an additional charge for each pedestal thereafter based on property type and use case.

SIMPLER PRICING (FROM 1 OCT 21)

GENERAL

All regions
  • Charges apply on a per dwelling/unit basis.
  • Billed per day, in arrears.

WATER USAGE

All regions
  • No change

STATE BULK WATER CHARGE

All regions
  • No change

WATER SERVICES

All regions
  • A fixed charge based on the size and number of water meters servicing your property.

SEWERAGE SERVICES

All regions
  • A fixed charge based on the connection size of the water meter/s servicing your property multiplied by a Discharge Factor percentage.
  • Discharge Factors are determined by your Land Use Code and differ across property types and industries.
  • Land Use Codes indicate the predominant use for which a property is utilised or adapted to be utilised by virtue of its structure, fixtures and fittings.

SEWAGE DISPOSAL

All regions
  • new charge to replace pedestal charges and some Trade Waste charges.
  • As there's typically no meter at a property to measure sewage volume, Sewage Disposal charges will be calculated based on your Water Usage multiplied by your Discharge Factor percentage. 
 
Trade Waste changes

On top of the improvements outlined in the table above, we'll also be streamlining and simplifying our Trade Waste categories and charges.

Simpler Pricing will see us:

  • introduce consistent charges across our five service regions,
  • reduce our total number of categories from five to three,
  • remove the fixed minimum charge,
  • remove the application fee, and
  • only apply trade waste charges for sewage discharges above domestic strength, in recognition of new Sewage Disposal charges for all non-residential customers.

Other general Trade Waste changes are outlined the in table below.

CURRENT STATE (NOW)

TRADE WASTE

Brisbane and Ipswich
  • An application fee is payable for new applications.
  • A fixed minimum charge applies to all approval holders.
  • A variable charge also applies to all approval holders to help recover the cost of trade waste transport, treatment and audit activities.
  • Approval holders are assigned a category – A, B, C, D and E – for charging purposes.
  • Categories link similar business types to equitable charges and relevant methods for measuring or estimating the volume and strength of discharges.
  • Category A, B, C and E approval holders are indirectly metered (using a fraction of the potable water usage) and charged based on an assumed trade waste quality.
  • Category D approval holder discharges are metered, sampled and chemically analysed to provide the basis for volume and quality charges.
 
Somerset, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim 
  • No Trade Waste charges.

FUTURE STATE (SIMPLER PRICING FROM 1 OCT 2021)

TRADE WASTE

All regions
  • Trade Waste charges applied consistently across service regions.
  • No application fee.
  • No fixed minimum charge for approval holders.
  • A simple variable charge applies to all approval holders to help recover the cost of trade waste treatment activities.
  • Approval holders are assigned a new trade waste category – 1,2 or 3 – for charging purposes.
  • Categories link similar business types to equitable charges and relevant methods for measuring or estimating the volume and strength of discharges.
  • Category 1 approval holder discharges are deemed less than or equal to ‘domestic strength’ – i.e. the combined wastewater discharge is of a strength less than or equal to domestic sewage – based on Land Use Codes and business activity at the property.
  • Domestic strength is an expression of the concentration of contaminants in typical domestic sewage. Specifically, the contaminant concentrations are: 300 mg/L Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), 330 mg/L Suspended Solids, 70 mg/L Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen and 12 mg/L Total Phosphorous.
  • As their combined wastewater discharge is deemed less than domestic strength, Category 1 approval holders will no longer incur Trade Waste charges and will instead only pay Sewage Disposal charges.
  • Category 2 approval holder discharges are deemed greater than ‘domestic strength’ – i.e. the combined wastewater discharge is of a strength greater than domestic sewage – based on Land Use Codes and business activity at the property.
  • Category 2 charges will be calculated based on your Water Usage multiplied by your Discharge Factor percentage multiplied by an ‘above domestic strength’ tariff, which helps cover the treatment costs associated with above domestic strength trade waste.
  • Category 3 approval holders are those with approval to discharge more than 25kL/day or more than 25kg/day Biochemical Oxygen Demand.
  • Category 3 charges will be calculated using your Discharge Factor percentage and a Trade Waste sewage discharge meter will be used to support calculation of the quality charges
     
Community Title Scheme changes

Urban Utilities classifies Community Title Schemes (CTS) into three groups – Option A, Option B and Option C – for billing purposes. Simpler Pricing will also affect CTS in different ways depending on their classification.

Multi-residential changes

Multi-residential is an account classification we currently use for charging purposes. From Friday 1 October 2021, however, it’ll be discontinued as a classification and multi-residential accounts will be reclassified as either residential or non-residential based on their predominant use.

A property’s predominant use will be determined non-residential if the majority of its dwellings/units are non-residential in nature and the majority of its floorspace area is non-residential in nature. Otherwise, it’ll be determined residential.

Multi-residential properties considered to be predominantly residential will be billed as per our residential tariff structure, whereby charges apply on a per dwelling basis. On the other hand, multi-residential properties considered to be predominantly non-residential will be billed as per our new, simpler non-residential tariff structure outlined above.

Most existing multi-residential accounts can simply be reclassified as either residential or non-residential, however, there may be a small number of accounts where it is difficult to determine predominant use. We’ll work proactively with these account holders to determine an appropriate classification.

CURRENT STATE

  • Multi-residential exists as an account classification for charging purposes.
  • Multi-residential properties are billed as non-residential regardless of their predominant use.
  • Each quarter, we issue the property owner a single bill for the entire property
  • Charges apply on a per account basis in Brisbane, Somerset and Ipswich, while charges apply on a per lot basis in Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley.
  • On occasion, a property owner may choose to install individual water meters for each dwelling/unit to allow water usage charges to be passed on to tenants in line with their individual Rental Tenancy Agreements. Urban Utilities has no visibility of these arrangements.

FUTURE STATE (RESIDENTIAL) 

  • Multi-residential is discontinued as an account classification.
  • Each quarter, we issue the property owner a single bill for the entire property.
  • As per our residential tariff structure, charges now apply on a per unit/dwelling basis in all regions. For example, a residential property with five units/dwellings will now incur five services charges.
  • As a result, a property owner will likely experience an increase in services charges but a decrease in usage charges.
  • On occasion, a property owner may choose to install individual water meters for each dwelling/unit to allow water usage charges to be passed on to tenants in line with their individual Rental Tenancy Agreements. Urban Utilities has no visibility of these arrangements. 

FUTURE STATE (NON-RESIDENTIAL)

  • Multi-residential is discontinued as an account classification. 
  • As per our new, simpler non-residential tariff structure, charges now apply as per the table above.
  • As a result, most account holders will experience bill decrease, however a small number may experience a bill increase.
  • On occasion, a property owner may choose to install individual water meters for each dwelling/unit to allow water usage charges to be passed on to tenants in line with their individual Rental Tenancy Agreements. Urban Utilities has no visibility of these arrangements. 
Vacant Land changes

Simpler Pricing will also see us streamline vacant land charges.

From Friday 1 October 2021, vacant land charges will only apply where:

  • water and/or sewerage services are available to a property, and

  • the property is considered to be ‘connected’ to our network.

A property is considered to be ‘connected’ to our network if the infrastructure connecting the property to our network is there, which means:

  • there could be a meter at the property,

  • a meter has been capped,

  • or a meter was there but has been removed.

As such, we’ll no longer apply charges to vacant land that isn’t and has neverbeen ‘connected’ to our network, which means there isn’t, and never has been, a water meter at the property.

Discharge Factors

Discharge Factors are used to estimate the volume of sewage (trade waste and domestic sewage) discharged to the sewer network.

The Discharge Factor for a property is the ratio of sewage discharged to the sewerage system to the total water consumption (expressed as a decimal fraction).

This factor is used by Urban Utilities for the calculation of sewerage charges:

Discharge Factor = (Domestic Sewage + Trade Waste)/Total Water Consumption

The total water consumption includes water purchased from Urban Utilities, alternative water sources (e.g. roof water) and water that is introduced in process feedstocks (e.g. milk).

Some water is inevitably “lost” during domestic and trade waste processes, and these losses are accounted for by the discharge factor.

Losses may occur as a result of irrigation, evaporation of cooling tower feedwater, steam production, incorporation in products (e.g. soft drinks) or discharge to other waste management streams.

Discharge Factors are determined by Land Use Code6 and differ across property types and industries, as per the table below:

 LAND USE CODE  DEFINITION DISCHARGE FACTOR
 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12,00, 13, 14, 15, 16,21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 39,42, 43, 45, 47, 48, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55,57, 60, 61, 92, 96, 97, 99
 Vacant Urban Land; Single Unit Dwelling, Multiple Dwelling, Outbuilding/Amenity, Guest House, Private, Community Title Scheme, Combined Multiple Dwelling, Shop (Single), Shops (>6 Shops), Shops 2-6 Shops, Shop (Main Retail), Shop (Secondary Retail), Drive-in Shopping Centre, Restaurant, Residential Institution, Car Park, Retail Warehouse, Sales Area, Office(s), Funeral Parlour, Hospital/Convalescence Home, Warehouse and Bulk Store, Transport Terminal, Service Station, Oil Depot, Wharf, Builders Yard, General Industry, Light Industry, Noxious/Offensive, Harbour Industry, Hotel/Tavern, Motel, Theatres/Cinemas, Licensed Club, Religious, Cemetery, Sporting Fields/Parks with no irrigation of an active playing surface Relocatable Home Park, Art Gallery, Museum, Zoo, Library, Retirement Villages, Mixed Residential Purposes, Defence Force Establishment, Public Hospital, Welfare Home/Institution, Community Protection
 0.90 (90%)
 20, 41, 58 Marina, Child Care, Educational 0.80 (80%)
 18, 49, 50, 56, 63 Special Tourist Attraction, Caravan Park, Showground/Racecourse, Boarding Kennels/Cattery, Other Club (Non Business)

0.70 (70%)
 34  Cold store/Ice works 0.25 (25%)
 48, 57  Sporting Fields/Parks that are a bowls club with irrigation of greens, Sporting
Fields/Parks that are specifically Pony Clubs
0.20 (20%)
 40, 44, 48, 57, 62  Extractive, Nursery, Park and Garden, Wholesale Production Nursery, Sporting
Clubs with irrigation of active playing surface (excl. Bowls Clubs)
0.10 (10%)
 38, 91  Advertising – Hoarding, Utility Installation 0 (0%)
 For Trade Waste customers who discharge greater than 25kL BOD per day, Urban Utilities may use trade waste meters (or other discharge meters) to measure their Discharge Factor.
Review of discharge factors

Although standard Discharge Factors generally provide an appropriate estimate of the water use and disposal characteristics at a property, specific activities at the property can influence the true Discharge Factor and justify a review process.

Property owners or their agents can apply for a review of their Discharge Factor if they feel it isn’t representative of the amount of water discharged to sewer.

For example, relatively high rates of irrigation, feedwater to cooling towers or significant water retained in products can decrease the true discharge factor.

The use and disposal of water from alternative sources (e.g. roof water or bore water) or introduced in process feedstocks (e.g. milk) should also be accounted for and will increase the discharge factor.

Usually, an appropriate estimate of the Discharge Factor can be made and agreed between the owner and Urban Utilities.

As an alternative, the property owner or their agent may elect to install sewage discharge metering to provide a more accurate assessment of sewage volumes.

Before making the decision to apply for a review or install metering, property owners and agents should consider:

  • The practicality of installing a sewage discharge meter or sub-meters needed to demonstrate the amount of sewer discharge.
  • The costs involved compared to the likely benefits.
  • The possibility that the standard Discharge Factor is accurate or favourable to the property owner or occupier.
  • Applications for review of Discharge Factors should be emailed to trade.waste@urbanutilities.com.au
  • In assessing applications, Urban Utilities will refer to water consumption and trade waste records for the previous two years (where available).
Removal of unused water meters 

Rather than downsizing water meters, customers may choose to remove their water meter and associated infrastructure entirely to avoid water and sewerage services charges.

Property owners must obtain a Water Approval from Urban Utilities to do this and pay for all associated costs.

Please email the Simpler Pricing Customer Help team at simplerpricing@urbanutilities.com.au or call 1300 220 434 (8:30am-4pm weekdays) to discuss obtaining a Water Approval to cap or removed unused meters.

What you need to do now

For the past few months, we’ve been proactively contacting the customers likely to be most affected by the changes to offer support and assistance, and to explore ways they may be able to save water and money at their properties.

You don’t need to do anything if you haven’t heard from us.

We’ll automatically transition you to Simpler Pricing from Friday 1 October onwards.

We're here to help

Simpler Pricing is about making our tariffs more consistent, equitable and aligned to customer needs, but as always, we’re here to help if you have any further queries.

Our dedicated Simpler Pricing Customer Help team is available 8:30am-4pm weekdays via simplerpricing@urbanutilities.com.au or call 1300 220 434 (8:30am-4pm weekdays). 

Frequently Asked Questions