A day after the state government announced water bill hikes for thousands of South Australian households, it now says the extra cost will be partly offset for concession card holders including pensioners and veterans.

An increased concession in annual water and sewerage bills of around $50 a year, on average, for about 190,000 eligible customers will come into effect from July 1, the government said.

But, the amount does not cover the full cost of an $80 price hike on the average annual water bill in SA, which will come into effect on the same day.

The price rise is intended to help pay for $1.5 billion worth of new mains water and sewerage connections to rapidly-growing Adelaide suburbs.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said the bill hike, to come into effect from July 1, would address a “major underinvestment in water infrastructure”.(ABC News: Nyome Oo)

Premier Peter Malinauskas said that the government had set aside $65 million in the state budget for the concession measure, which would “ameliorate that impact” of the increased bills “on the most vulnerable”.

But, he said they would still be worse off by about $8 a quarter.

“[The concession is] well more than half of it — $52 out of $81 means that, for most people, the increase is going to be a lot less than a dollar a week,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“There is already a $360 concession in place on people’s water bills at the moment, for concession card holders.

“We’re increasing that to $412 to reflect the fact that [for] people on low and fixed incomes, like pensioners, the ability to be able to accommodate an increase is obviously far less.”

Mr Malinauskas said the boosted concession would be available to Health Care card holders, pensioners and veterans.

“People who are entitled to a typical concession card are eligible for the concession, but when you look at it numerically … the vast bulk are pensioners,” Mr Malinauskas said.

The government day revealed that, from July 1, household water bills would increase by 3.5 per cent above inflation, or about $20 a quarter.

That increase is in line with an SA Water business proposal submitted to the state’s Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA) late last year.

The premier on Wednesday conceded that that meant the $80 rise was not fixed, and was likely to rise over the next few years — but defended the hike as necessary to allow for infrastructure spending to boost the state’s housing stock amid a “supply crunch”.

The government said the funds would help deliver infrastructure necessary to build more houses and curtail the ‘insane escalation’ in housing prices.(ABC News: Nyome Oo)

“We can’t predict what CPI is going to be next year,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“We have to make these investments if we want to curtail the insane escalation we are seeing in rents and house prices.

“What people can’t abide … is basically having 30 and 40-year-olds, who are couples, both in ostensibly middle-class jobs, and they can’t afford a home.”

Opposition Leader David Speirs has hit out at the increased water fees, describing them as “unfair”.

“[The Premier Peter Malinauskas] is reaching into South Australians’ bank accounts and ripping out their hard-earned cash,” he said.

“Today’s announcement of a changed concession model is barely any hope at all for the most vulnerable South Australians.

“There is no need for these water bills to go up, no need at all.”