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Environment

Water meters – some have them and some don’t

A number of concerns have been raised with The Coromandel Informer regarding water meters and an imminent new system re charges for water usage. Many residents received a letter informing them of the upcoming changes in water charges.
 |  The Informer  | 

The key change is that everyone who has a meter will be charged on the basis of the amount of water they use.

For a long time, instead of user payers, there has been a “fixed charge”. From 1 July 2024, that fixed charge will be reduced by about 50%. The other 50% will pay for the water treatment plant and process. The other portion of the charge which is no longer a fixed charge will be what you use. Water usage will be measured through existing meters. The new process commences 1 July. The cost per cubic metre is $1.62 for 1,000 litres.

Comments from residents reveal confusion and concern as to the fairness of the rates regarding water

• “We don’t have water meters on every property, or in some cases, there are several dwellings on one property and only one meter. What will happen to those without water meters, those in complexes or stand-alone houses?”

• “According to the letter that we received, the average household will pay an extra $360 to what they are paying already.”

• “It is hard to work out what we are actually paying. We should not be paying under a new system until every dwelling has a water meter. If you only have one water metre and there is a leak somewhere and that meter is serving four or five houses, there is the potential for tension – one house might have one inhabitant and another three or four or more people. Each house can hardly pay the same.”

• “Water meters are not the problem – storage is. If we put extra storage in, then we haven’t got enough filtration; our filtration plant is not big enough. It is hard to follow the thinking of the council on this matter. We have had a drought in the recent past. I just happened to be in Pauanui with very tight water restrictions. We stopped at the swimming hole at Coroglen Pub in that period and the water was flowing through at a good pace.”

• “Even after so much rain last year in 2023, coming into Whitianga township in late October, we were greeted with a flashing sign, “Conserve water”. Rain had been recent and the busy season had not yet started.”

The concerns and questions from residents were raised with the Communications Team at TCDC and we received a helpful and prompt response. The issue of water storage and filtration are bigger and more long-term matters and a response to these was not requested. These will be addressed in the future. The Informer has been assured that there is a plan for future storage.

The newly installed water meters. There are still a number of properties in Whangamata and Whitianga that don’t have unbundled water meters. Photo credit Colin Andrew

From TCDC – Thursday, 13 June.

Coromandel Town, Pāuanui, Thames have water meters. Whitianga and Whangamata have water meters but some dwellings do not and some properties have one water meter for more than one dwelling. Tairua does not have meters.

The new development off Discovery Drive, Wharekaho had water meters installed but the rest of Wharekaho does not have a Council water supply, so there are no water meters there.

We have unbundled the majority of water connections in our communities with water meters. However, as we carry out normal network and meter maintenance work, we are aware of cases where further unbundling is required.

Most of the sites where unbundling work is required are where one connection is shared by a lot of properties, These sites will be unbundled, and each dwelling will have a separate water meter. It is a catching up process. Whitianga is catching up as is Whangamata.

In Whangamata, there are a number of places that require unbundling and the same applies to Whitianga. Water meters will be installed to properties that require unbundling in Whangamatā beginning in the 2025/26 financial year if the funding in the 2024-2034 Long Term Plan is approved. For Whitianga, it will be 2027.

Charges: The properties without meters will continue to pay the full fixed charge until the unbundling occurs. This year it was $803.90 and it will go up a little to about $820 per annum.

Property owners in our district with water meters will be charged a fixed charge for water supply on their rates account as well as a separately billed water account which covers the water consumed as measured by their meter.

The charges together, cover maintenance and upkeep of water supply infrastructure and running of water treatment plants, as well as the cost of the actual treated water consumed. Properties that do not have water meters do not have a water account, but pay for water use instead through a slightly higher fixed charge on their rates account.

“Water metering has been proven to be a valuable tool for tracking down water loss, and accurately measuring water volumes reaching consumer properties,” says our Council’s Infrastructure Group Manager Mo Imtiaz.

“We can make savings through locating major leaks, knowing who our biggest water users are, and working with them to look at ways to better manage and conserve water.”

Our Council has developed a water supply strategy for Whitianga, which includes reducing water use through repairing leaks and managing demand, while looking for potential new supply sources to meet long-term growth in the area”.

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