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Water bills could increase as populations increase and climate change bites

Urban water users face water bills that will increase by half within a decade and continue to climb without "substantial" reform as rising population and climate change add stress to ageing networks, Infrastructure Australia said in a new report.

The future surge will build on a steady run-up in costs in recent years even as total water consumption has stagnated since the 1980s, with consumers responding to calls for more thrifty use.

The paper, Reforming Urban Water, also argues poor planning processes led to an $11 billion splurge on desalination plants that – with the exception of Perth – have largely gone unused and precluded cheaper short-term measures.

Victoria earlier this year ruled out a second plant after its multi-billion dollar Wonthaggi was left on standby since its completion five years ago.

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