Thursday, 22 October 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Metering likely as TCDC aims to cut water consumption

Meters in all homes and businesses to both monitor usage and promote conservation is being put forward as the best long-term solution to solving the Coromandel Peninsula’s water woes.

Thames-Coromandel District Council’s Draft Water Demand Strategy, currently out for public consultation, effectively rules out any investment in new water supplies for the foreseeable future, advocating that instead of supplying more, the solution to water shortages at peak time is instead to use less.

The strategy provides a blueprint for reducing the six million cubic metres of water being used across the Thames-Coromandel District each year, with those reluctant to control what comes out of their taps likely to pay the price.

“The best option for Thames-Coromandel is to manage its water demand to ensure our water supplies are used effectively and efficiently and the need to impose water conservation measures is minimised,” the draft strategy says. “This will ensure that any financial investment in expanding water supply infrastructure is driven by growth in the district.”

While there is no timeframe suggested for the introduction of universal metering and a cost analysis has yet to be completed for such a roll-out, it is clear that metres are seen the key tool in order to “…reduce the pressure on… current supplies and/or avoid the need to pursue new additional water sources.” The main issues identified are the huge influx of tourist and holidaymakers on the Peninsula during summer, the effects of drought and water losses, estimated to be up to 40 percent, due to leaks in older infrastructure.

“Water meters on our supply network can help us track leaks and monitor the condition of the network and most importantly, allow us to be more conscious of the amount of water we use,” the draft strategy says. “It also allows us to benchmark our water use and measure how effective our water conservation efforts are. Meters also allow water to be charged on the basis of what consumers actually use rather than a general charge.”

The draft strategy also includes measures such as water storage at individual properties, self-audits and better public education.

TCDC points out the current cost of water is $ 0.003 per litre and compares this to the $6 equivalent for bottled water. Despite persistent calls - including from the Mercury Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association - for new and alternative water sources to be investigated, council cites environmental concerns and prohibitive costs as major obstacles.

TCDC currently manages  and maintains 550km of pipeline with 11 separate water schemes operating in various communities.

Deputy mayor and Mercury Bay councillor, Murray McLean says, while council would continue to look at all the options for alternative sources, the installation of meters would provide a completely accurate picture of where, when and how water is being used across the Coromandel. “This needs to be the way forward,” he says. “We are a district of 30,000 ratepayers, we just cannot afford the tens of millions dollars that it would cost to develop new supplies. The days of just turning on the tap and not worrying about how much is going down the drain need to end. When metres were introduced in Tauranga, it reduced consumption by 20 percent. If we can have good, solid information, we can then better manage our use and invest in fixing the leaks within our existing network. That will go a long way to solving the issues we experience over the summer period.”

Members of the public can have their say on the Draft Water Demand Strategy until 30 October at haveyoursay-tcdc.objective.com/kse. Despite water being continually raised as a major issue for the Coromandel, only nine submissions had been received by TCDC as of last Friday, 9 October.

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