Council To Review Water Rates ‘As A Matter Of Urgency’

town hall windows signWater charges in Scilly could go up again this year to pay for new supply and sewerage upgrades.

The Council’s Senior Manager for Infrastructure, Craig Dryden, requested a meeting of the Waste and Water Charges Working Party “as a matter of urgency” to review the water rates.

Craig told members of Tuesday’s General Purposes Meeting it’s the result of new water and sewerage regulations being introduced, which haven’t applied before in Scilly.

The islands had previously used the ‘Scilly Clause’ to avoid the national rules, but this isn’t recognised under new European legislation.

St Agnes councillor, Richard McCarthy expressed concern over another potential price increases. He said the rates had already gone up above inflation in April and asked whether it would happen again this year.

Craig replied “it was prudent to look at the charges from time to time.”

But Cllr Steve Sims said water charges on St Mary’s have been “lower than they should have been for a considerable period of time.”

Steve said water charges will have to go up because the situation’s become unsustainable and he urged the Council to promote water saving initiatives.

“The less we use, the less it costs,” says Steve.

Cllr Gaz O’Neill wanted any review of water charges to look at different sized properties with different water requirements. A house with ten people or a house with one need to be treated fairly, he said.

Craig agreed, saying it’s sensible to review the charges based on consumption.

The Policy and Resources Committee will have the final say on any price increases.

In April, we reported complaints from residents about the taste of water from some supplies on St Mary’s.

Chairman Amanda Martin said the Council had received “quite a lot” of feedback over perceived quality problems with the water supply, particularly chlorination.

One of benefits of the ongoing roadworks, said Craig, is that the Water Department have been replacing some old cast iron pipes with new plastic ones, which should improve the taste of the supply.

DEFRA intend to launch a three-month consultation across all the islands from the end of this month to understand the impact of the new legislation.

The Council supplies the water on St Mary’s and Bryher, while the Duchy is responsible on the off-islands.

Richard said it was important that people from all five islands take part in the consultation, because it’s likely to result in the need for a large investment in the infrastructure.

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