THIRSTY residents in the Castlemaine district are hopping mad with their local council about water prices.
Mt Alexander Shire Council sent a letter to water carters yesterday saying prices were rising from $1.55 per thousand litres to $5 per thousand litres.
Castlemaine resident Peter Sherlock said such an almost tripling of water prices during one of the driest periods on records was a disgrace.
"Talk about kicking people while they are down.''
A number of complaints to the council quickly followed which late today backflipped on the rise.
The council said the letter advising of the price rise "was sent prematurely''.
"Water cartage agents have since been advised (verbally and to be followed up in writing) that there is no proposed change to the current prices,'' a spokesman said.
The council operates standpipes across the shire on behalf of Coliban Water.
"Council understands that this is an important service for many in our community,'' the spokesman said.
Local water contractor Brendan McKnight said he had advised his clients of the price rise and that his own prices would have to rise accordingly.
A medium-sized tanker of water cost about $170 delivered but the price would have risen to more than $200.
"Our clients are desperate if they've run out of water because their tanks are dry,'' Mr McKnight said.
"What a stuff-up, but we shouldn't be surprised.''
Mayor, Cr Michael Redden said: ''It is proposed to maintain the current prices until June 30 and council will review the price as part of the budget process.
"Council apologises for any concern and inconvenience that the uncertainty has caused.''