Wellington Water Meters

November 27th, 2008 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Two of ’s leaders are backing debate on a system to reduce Wellingtonians’ reckless consumption – now more than twice the national average.

Wellingtonians each use 400 litres of water a day compared with Aucklanders’ 300 litres and a national average of 160 litres.

Of course water should be user pays. Food is.

International research showed charging people for the water they used could slash consumption by 20 to 40 per cent. This would ease pressure on the region’s water supply and delay the need to build a proposed $142-million dam for 20 years.

An excellent reasons to do it. This part was interesting:

  • Cleaning teeth – five litres per brush.
  • Shower: eight minutes under ordinary shower head – 120 litres. Eight minutes under water-efficient shower head – 80 litres.
  • Bath (full) – 200 litres.
  • Toilet half-flush – six litres.
  • Garden hose (on full) – 250 litres every five minutes.
  • Dishwasher – up to 25 litres a wash.
  • Washing machine: top loading – 100-200 litres. Front loading – 70-85 litres.
  • Dripping tap – 60,000 litres a year.
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60 Responses to “Wellington Water Meters”

  1. Rakaia George (313 comments) says:

    The trouble is that the major proportion of what we pay in Auckland is not for the supply of potable water to our property, but for the cost of dealing with preventing polluted storm water going straight into the harbours.

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  2. gingercrush (153 comments) says:

    No user pays is a stupid idea. I can’t believe you would be so stupid to advocate the National led government go down this route. Do you want them turfed out after three years? The left blogosphere is already in hysteria about Rodney Hide being Local Government minister and this national-led government veering hard-right. They have already made hysterical calls about how everything in Local government is going to privatised. And yet you give them even more ammunition? National did not campaign on privatisation. The public does not want privatisation . It may well be that user-pay in terms of water means more conservation. But its an idea that does not have electoral mandate.

    Some things in the 80s and 90s really did fail and user-pays was one of those. We’re talking about a government that is more centrist and frankly more sensible. They don’t need the far-right elements advocating policies that will see them out of office in three years.

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  3. Kotare (2 comments) says:

    I agree with user pays for water as well. I was thinking about this yesterday evening as I out walking the dog and noticed people using large amounts of water for cleaning cars, washing windows and watering gardens. Good to hear Prendergast calling for an informed debate on water charging as a first step.

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  4. WraithX (295 comments) says:

    I support it, but if we are going to privatise, start with the greater costs and sell off the schools and hospitals. Then we can think about the smaller issues such as water.

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  5. Kotare (2 comments) says:

    Gingercrush – what exactly is “far right” about arguing that we should pay for natural resources that we use? As DPF said, we pay for the amount of food we consume, along with the amount of petrol, electricity, gas and virtually everything else. Why should water be any different?

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  6. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    I reject the accusation that ratepayers are reckless users of water. This is a smokescreen to cover the failure of government to plan for and build for natural increases in supply and demand. They’ve been fucking about with lame naval gazing distractions like the Treaty of Waitangi and Affirmative Action when they should have been building water collection and treatment facilities.

    That is the crux of this issue, and it is not right for the bureaucrats who have failed to try and divert from their failure by alleging reckless use of water. This is a planning failure, and those responsible should be fired. Christ knows there is enough of the useless bastards. (planners) Sucking up an offensive amount of taxpayer and ratepayer funds with inflated wage scales. Why the hell don’t they do their job??

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  7. iago (19 comments) says:

    Does it need to be privatised to be metered? metering It seems the most logical solution, water is not an unlimited resource and could easily be used more efficiently if people were paying for it. Perhaps a free quota of water for households could make it more politically palatable.

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  8. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    Can I just point out here that metering is NOT privatisation? And that privatisation of water (ie profting from the supply of domestic water) is not allowed under current legislation.

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  9. Camryn (550 comments) says:

    Chill, gingacrush. Us red heads (assuming you are) can get easily worked up but I don’t think that user pays means privatization. As iago notes, it can be a publicly owned ‘not for profit’ system but still charge on the basis of usage rather than via property rates or whatever they do now. Or, as iago says, the charge could be for any use above a quota. Even that could be graded in various ways.

    Funnier side: I remember a study from a few years back that had average # of showers/week by each major city. Wellington was the only city that averaged less than 1 shower/day. Now I can guess why… they’re so clean from their excessively long showers on the other six days that they can skip one OK (probably the day that the weather water blasts them clean).

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  10. Camryn (550 comments) says:

    Of course, I’d favor privatization but it’d have to be one of the lowest priorities. Apart from the usual gripes people have about privatization, water has the extra hassle of the private company having to dig up public streets and other people’s private property and that gets people worked up. They’d rather a public entity do it even if the lack of profit motive means they send twice and many guys and necessary and take twice as long.

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  11. CraigM (694 comments) says:

    I’ve lived in parts of the countrey where we were on tank water and metered water. To be honest, I wouldn’t go back to tank water again, except for watering the garden, washing the cars etc..it is ideal for that.

    Living in the ‘burbs, I get water to my house for a very fair price and I pay for what I use. If I want the luxury of washing the car, water blasting the house or drive, filling the pool etc then I know it will cost me. If I choose just to drink it, wash in it and do the laundry etc, it is not expensive at all. Certainly buying water in when the tanks ran dry was way more expensive.

    I would like to see the councils do one thing before they start charging though. That is, fix the enormous amount of leaks they have in the reticulation system. The amount of water a city like Auckland, Manakau, Wellington etc lose through leaky underground valves is mind boggling. I know in Akl it is a seven figure sum between what they buy and what they recover in costs and the rest goes into the ground.

    People seem to have a problem with paying for water which may be fair enough. Perhaps these people should consider that they are not paying for the water per se, they are paying for the convenience of having it delivered to multiple rooms in their homes.

    I guess you could always dig a well or get a tank and then cut yourself off from the council supply?

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  12. gingercrush (153 comments) says:

    Yes I know in me saying privatisation that it doesn’t exactly work. But you know it will spun as that by the left. It is also what the general public will think as well. And in Auckland they do profit from water metering. You can’t tell me they’re not making money by metering water. That money is pumped into all the councils that own the entity responsible for water metering. And then those councils have the gall to constantly hike rates while at the same time increasing the price of water. Its a dangerous precedent.

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  13. LC (162 comments) says:

    Put a price on water, use what you want, pay for what you use.

    However the experience of Tauranga when they went to metered water was that people slowed down their use so they had to put the price up to cover the shortfall.

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  14. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    What a reckless and uninformed debate that is. What does it cost to stick in these meters, what is the expected reduction in use and what does it otherwise cost to produce and distribute this amount? How are these variables expected to develop over time?

    Generally, it is always a good idea to measure use of resources and allocate the cost of providing them to the user, the question is what type of mechanism you use to establish the appropriate allocation of costs.

    In and of itself that’s got nothing to do with privatization, but everything to do with planning. Commercial entities must be good at that otherwise they stop to exist (although that idea is starting to become quite obsolete…). On the other hand, governments and bureaucrats tend not to excel at planning and common sense, but tend to be pretty cunning in the allocation of costs, and particularly apt at allocating overheads. The simple solution is not privatization, but transparency.

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  15. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    User pays is very logical. It means you can save yourself money.

    We are crazy really. We purify thousands of gallons of water to a drinking standard. Then we flush most of it down the toilet, or down the shower, or put it on the garden, and only actually drink a tiny fraction of it. What a waste of resources.

    If you have to pay, it may be profitable to install greywater and rainwater systems for many purposes. This saves you money, and if enough people do it ultimately reduces the amount of infrastructure required to supply water to the city.

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  16. Brian Smaller (3,982 comments) says:

    So, when meters are brought in do we get a corresponding drop in rates? I currently pay for water reticulation in my rates. I can see a “pipe charge” like there is a “line charge” for power or gas. I don’t want to pay twice.

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  17. coventry (315 comments) says:

    I thought Wellingtons water was already Privatised ? Or is Anglian Water (Moa Point) only responsible for Waste Water ?

    Edit: http://www.gw.govt.nz/section40.cfm

    We collect and treat all the tap water used in Lower Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington. Once it’s treated, we distribute the water to reservoirs owned by the four city councils, from where the cities supply to the public.

    Our role as wholesale water supplier to the region’s cities involves:

    * Operating four water treatment plants, 15 pumping stations and just over 180 kilometres of large-diameter pipelines
    * Supplying enough water each day – around 150 million litres on average – to meet the needs of over 370,000 people
    * Maintaining a high quality of treated water, consistent with New Zealand’s drinking water standards
    * Planning to ensure that the water needs of future generations can be met
    * Managing assets valued at $296 million.

    Our part in providing the region’s water supply costs around $23 million dollars annually, or 42 cents per thousand litres. Each week we deliver enough high-quality water to fill Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

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  18. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    Mr Dennis,
    Good point, and also killing another bird, namely that of excessive storm water systems. I all properties (where feasible) would be obliged to have storm water retention tanks for water collected of roof areas (so reasonably controllable for quality), this water could not only be used for flushing loos etc, but it would also provide a serious retention volume restricting the required capacity of stormwater systems. It would of course require additional reticulation within buildings, but the cost/benefit of that would be very positive, particularly over the longer term.

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  19. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    And of course, once the water goes user-pays, the basic WCC rates will reduce by the amount of whatever levy covers the cost of providing water at present, and my landlord will pass that saving on to me through reduced rent.

    Yeah right :-D

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  20. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,787 comments) says:

    David I always thought you Wellingtonians were big mouths. How the hell do you manage to use over a gallon of water brushing your teeth? I use about two 200mls. Mind you I’ve spent a few years in the Australian Outback where we had 12,000 litres to last us six months and if we ran out, it cost $50 to get a truck in with another 2,000 litres (1970s money)

    The best way to conserve water is to shoot your teenage daughters.

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  21. RightNow (6,642 comments) says:

    It certainly seems Wellingtonians need to be paying for their water given their profligacy. I would hope that each household gets a certain amount free (e.g 160 litres/day/person as per the national average) before a progressive charging system kicks in. This would help discourage flagrant waste from things like unattended sprinklers.
    Obviously each meter would have to have a certain number of people allocated to it though, so a household of 6 people would have a bigger free allocation than a household of 2.
    It would certainly encourage conservation of the water, and likely lead to increased use of further conservation measures such as grey water systems.
    One thought relating to Wellington though is perhaps it is skewed by the enormous grounds of the GG’s house needing constant watering (and perhaps even Premier House)?

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  22. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    PS: One reason water isn’t user-pays everywhere goes back to the time of the Roman civilisation. They realised that if you want to build large cities with tens or hundreds of thousands of people living close together, you simply must have an effective, centralised, piped system of clean water distribution and sewerage collection. Not to do so inevitably leads to everyone giving each other diarrhoea/ cholera/ Legionella etc, and basically having public health disasters with large numbers of deaths on a regular basis. You simply can’t have a society living like this.

    Luckily for the Romans, they discovered concrete, and were thus able to build elaborate systems of reservoirs, aqueducts, pipelines and sewers to keep their large intense cities alive and healthy.

    In this sense, in a city/society everyone is in the same boat (perhaps more than many libertarians would want to acknowledge!!) and therfore perhaps water reticulation is not exactly the same as selling food; it is a critical life safety system whose successful operation everybody living in a city has a vested interest in, irrespective of whether Eusebius drinks more water than Florestan. The main service is the cleanliness of the water, not the quantities that are retailed. This history may be a reason why there has not been a universal switch to user-pays water reticulation everywhere.

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  23. peterwn (3,140 comments) says:

    Anglican Water used to run Moa Point only but as far as I know, it has reverted to Council. Wellington and Lower Hutt water and wastewater are run by a joint venture called ‘Capacity,’ this is viewed with slight suspicition as a thin edge of the wedge for privatisation.

    Matter of water metering came up several years ago for same reasons. I suspect that improvement of water network maintenance has put off the ‘evil day’ when more ‘headworks’ (resevoirs etc) are needed, but the matter is obviously back on the agenda. Wellington City Council offers water metering to those who want it (it is worth having if you have a higher value property and lower than average consumption), and has for several years installed suitable toby boxes and meter ‘bases’ when renewing mains so meters can be easily screwed in. However Council does not seem to be publicising this too much at present.

    Left leaning groups object to water metering because of its ‘regressive’ nature – ie it transfers some water costs from the rich to the poor. A councillor proposed that meter tariffs should be based on property value, ie you would pay say $0.40 per tonne (1000 litres) if you live in a $200,000 house or $2 per tonne if you live in a $1M house.

    Another reason the matter has been on the ‘back burner’ in recent years is technology related. Ideally meters should automatically transmit readings back to ‘mother ship’. To be feasible IMO the meter needs its own radio transmitter (into the Telecom or Vodafone cell networks would be the most logical) and a battery that lasts for at least 10 years, and it is possible such technology is available or round the corner. However such technologies are apt to be ’round the corner’ for decades.

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  24. artemisia (207 comments) says:

    Wellington City Council already has water metering. However it is optional – there are 1200 properties on a meter so far. There is an initial charge to instal the meter then an admin charge each quarter to read the meter. I think the initial charge for mine was $75 (several years ago). The water charge is then removed from the rates bill. The Council is helpful by sending a note out each year to show how to calculate whether it is worthwhile switching from a meter. For people with a small household and a high value house (and no swimming pool) it is usually well worth while to change to a meter.

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  25. aardvark (417 comments) says:

    Everyone should live in the country on tank-water for a few years. It does amazing things to your water (ab)use habits.

    For example — why do people leave the tap running when brushing their teeth — is there any point to that?

    And try adding up the few extra seconds you spend in the shower every day when you know the supply of water is effectively unlimited.

    When you’re on a tank that’s fed only by rain falling on the roof and it’s late February after three months of virtually no rain you realise just how valuable that last inch of water you’ve got left really is and your conservation techniques go into very high gear.

    It also makes the luxury of a long hot shower (with water heated by a wetback) while the tanks are overflowing in a heavy winter downpour all the more satisfying.

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  26. freethinker (680 comments) says:

    You are being really unfair to wellingtonians – they had a good reason for their high useage – on getting home they needed a shower to wash the stench of corruption they acquired in the job as public servants and again in the morning after a fitful sweaty nights sleep. Now that the Augean stables are being cleaned out – please – water useage will drop to normal levels!

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  27. Rex Widerstrom (5,253 comments) says:

    Redbaiter suggests:

    …it is not right for the bureaucrats who have failed to try and divert from their failure by alleging reckless use of water. This is a planning failure, and those responsible should be fired.

    And Ratbiter adds:

    …the basic WCC rates will reduce by the amount of whatever levy covers the cost of providing water at present, and my landlord will pass that saving on to me through reduced rent. Yeah right.

    When those two are singing from the same song sheet you really do need to have another think, DPF. I live under a user-pays water regime which has been imposed because for decades local authorities and the state government did nothing about the falling dam levels.

    Yet they still need the dead hand of bureaucracy to limit consumption… they pay (presumably from the water charges) even more bureaucrats to drive round peering over people’s fences and fining them if their sprinklers are sprinkling on other than their “appointed day”.

    However, drive past any council-run sports field and you’re guaranteed a free car wash as their busted reticulation systems dump megalitres onto nearby roads. And – surprise, surprise – not a single cent was shaved off any council rates or state taxes to recognise the added cost burden.

    As Redbaiter says, “planning” is an absolute mess, and allowing those responsible to pass the burden onto end users isn’t the solution.

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  28. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    “Wellingtonians’ reckless consumption ”

    Who gave the Dom Post or anyone else the right to judge people on their water consumption? What is the definition of “reckless consumption” anyway? Note the parental-telling-off tone, which sounds just like the one that wants to control our shower heads and hot water cylinders.

    The Dom Post is echoing the words of the Socialist nanny state which wishes to impose its standards upon everyone. As far as I’m concerned they can take their nanny state and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine (in a water pipe of course, what were you thinking of?)

    http://www.kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com

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  29. Brian Smaller (3,982 comments) says:

    Perhaps it is because in Wellington it takes that much water to wash the stink of nine years of corruption off.

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  30. Turpin (342 comments) says:

    As far as I’m concerned I already own the water as I’m a NZ citizen and a ratepayer so why should I pay for one of life necessities, we own the ground and we own the pipes.

    So I should pay, just so some wanky councillor can get an extra fee for sitting on a board, with another bunch of people driving swanky cars and expense accounts for handling what I own.

    When they haven’t been doing the planning and investing they should have for the last 20yrs anyway, notwithstanding fixing the leaks in the system.
    I question both the figures and the assumptions raised as they don’t really know what’s lost as they don’t have meters on all the connections so they can’t know the consumption.

    If this is what we are to expect from John Key and National they can stop unpacking their 10,000 boxes and bugger off right now.

    [DPF: Why should Miss Muggins aged 85 who uses only say 100 litres of water a day pay for Family X on $200,000 who use 2,000 litres a day?]

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  31. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    If this is what we are to expect from John Key and National they can stop unpacking their 10,000 boxes and bugger off right now.

    And have you seen the weather today? Man, these guys just have to do better. On the other hand, looks like there’ll be more water to go around.

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  32. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    Turpin>As far as I’m concerned I already own the water as I’m a NZ citizen and a ratepayer so why should I pay for one of life necessities, we own the ground and we own the pipes.

    Strangely, I think the same thing about electricity. The sooner we can pay for electricity out of rates and do away with metered electricity bills, the sooner I can get back to leaving all my lights turned on when I go out.

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  33. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    Gentlefolk

    I lived in Karori ( a Wellington Suburb) right through the 90s, and was one of the first to shift to a meter when the renewed the pipes in the suburb. There was an immediate impact on my rates (they went down significantly) and I started paying for what went through the meter. The bills were not excessive, and I felt like I had some control over what it was costing to have fresh potable water in the house. However, you can only imagine my shock and horror when the three kids moved out almost simultaneously! The bills went down by about 80%! I almost asked the city to come and check that the metre was working!

    I spent 2007 in Brisbane, in a rented property with a water meter. Every day, at least 30 times, I was exhorted to SAVE WATER. There was a drought happening, and the request was that we should aim for 180 litres per day per person. It changed my habits big time! Wet the toothbrush TURN OFF THE TAP brush teeth rinse toothbrush rinse mouth; if you used a small cup of water it was too much! Get in the shower, get wet TURN OFF THE TAP, soap up and scrub, rinse off. repeat with hair (I only need to do that now and again as I don’t have a lot – my trouble-and-strife got my allocation there! In the middle of our stay the owner of the house fitted a grey and roof water tank that looked after the garden that was subsidised 50:50 by the council. There was no hassle about what we were doing, it didn’t restrict our freedom, it didn’t bother us at all, we just thought about what we were doing. We ended up using less than 120 litres of fresh potable water per person per day.

    While we may lay claim to owning the water here, what we don’t own is the plants that water has to be processed through in order to be potable, the pumps that push it to our property, the pipes that take it away again and the plants that process the waste water to ensure we don’t pollute the environment. I can’t see why anyone would resent paying for those services based on usage rather than the capital value of their house. We pay today, bet we do not pay equitably.

    I wish I had a meter in Churton Park!!

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  34. duncan_bayne (53 comments) says:

    Reckless consumption? The only reason there’s a shortage of potable water is socialism, brought on by the bad choices of voters over the years.

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  35. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Duncan- What the hell is a lib doing living in Melbourne/ Victoria?? Place has been absolutely totally fucked by socialism for decades. Hate the place.

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  36. Turpin (342 comments) says:

    daveP
    “Strangely, I think the same thing about electricity. The sooner we can pay for electricity out of rates and do away with metered electricity bills, the sooner I can get back to leaving all my lights turned on when I go out”.

    DaveP
    With electricity you’re using someone else’s product, they have a right to trade it.
    If the council owned the electricity generation then we could look at it coming out of rates.
    They don’t so it’s a non-starter.

    This is a slippery slope, it will be a monopoly and the prices will go up for what we already own.

    I’m a capitalist on most things but not water.

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  37. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    Last time I visited Wellington Central Business District I noticed it smelled faintly of urine and bleach. I strongly suggest we not restrict any water to these people lest the wiff become an all encompassing stench.

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  38. artemisia (207 comments) says:

    dave strings, hae you asked the Wgtn CC if you can switch to a meter? In my case the meter is attached to the toby – pipes are old and not refurbished.

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  39. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    Turpin>If the council owned the electricity generation then we could look at it coming out of rates. They don’t so it’s a non-starter.

    Good point. The government owns an airline and STILL doesn’t provide free flights for everyone. I think I’ll e-mail them to demand that the airline be financed out of taxes and that air travel be free. Then I’ll be able to pop over to the Gold Coast every weekend in the winter. Why should I pay for metered privately owned electricity to heat my home when free air travel will allow me to go somewhere warmer?

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  40. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    Any change in the mechanism of levying charges is an opportunity for councils to raise their total income. The combination of rates and water meter charges will come to 110% of what consumers pay today.

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  41. Steve (4,490 comments) says:

    Here in the Big Smoke where most tax is paid, we pay for water.
    Certain amount free then excess Water Rates + GST.
    We also pay a levy to ARC, “Auckland Regional Council” + GST.
    That is on top of normal Council Rates + GST.
    There is the normal rate for the house and property and another rate for uninhabited buildings.
    Yep, my garage, + GST
    Did I mention GST? Double taxing?

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  42. Steve (4,490 comments) says:

    Come on Rodney, sort these Councils out

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  43. kiki (425 comments) says:

    as usual there are at least two issues being discussed here, one is privatization and the other is water charges.

    Water is so important that charging for it’s use has to happen or we will end up short’ it is limited in supply even if it seems in abundance in new zealand. Everyone who uses water should pay this includes power generators, irrigators and cities and towns. The way in which people pay or who pays is the problem and it will require transparency to deal with it. This is one reason that the local politicians in our area are seeking control of parts of our regional council so they can get their hands on the water for their benefit.

    Privatization, the other issue, will fail as turning a publicly owned monopoly into a private monopoly wont achieve anything but higher costs in the end. You don’t really think a private company will pass on their internal saving to the stupid trapped consumer. Telecom was a great cash cow for many years as they cut infrastructure, staff and maintenance and they sure didn’t pass any savings on until some competition arrived do you think someone will turn up to compete delivering water? Do you think line companies are passing on their saving?

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  44. reid (15,912 comments) says:

    If you support water charges why don’t we ask those in Auckland what they think about MetroWater’s service and costs since it was introduced? Hold a referenda. I dare you.

    Gaurantee they’ll say it’s fucked, in every way.

    No problem with the user-pays principle, just make sure you don’t support water charges on that basis, that’s just fucking dumb. For the devil is in the execution, and in Auckland, they fucked it up.

    Why does it not sink into otherwise thinking people, that when you change a historically not-for-profit entity into a for-profit entity, service levels reduce and charges rise. In case you misunderstand, that means you pay more, and get less. It’s not rocket science.

    Put it this way: is water delivery in Wgtn at the moment, broken? No? Then fucking leave it alone, you ideological market-driven fruitcakes.

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  45. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Put it this way: is water delivery in Wgtn at the moment, broken? No?”

    Wrong. The right answer is “yes”. It is broke. They haven’t enough storage and they have not planned effectively.

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  46. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    Friend in Sydney in one of the new suburbs. Two pipes coming into the house – one potable, one not. All the stormwater and grey water in the suburb goes to a huge holding tank, gets basic purification, comes back for toilet flushing, gardening etc. Far more efficient than everyone having their own tanks.

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  47. reid (15,912 comments) says:

    “Wrong. The right answer is “yes”. It is broke. They haven’t enough storage and they have not planned effectively.”

    Well RB, I’ve only lived in Wgtn 3 years but before that I was 20 years in Akld. I recall a certain time there when there was talk of using standing pipes to supply water. Remember that? Can’t see that happening down here.

    Maybe Wgtn’s system doesn’t discourage profligacy as much as it might, but there are other ways to do that apart from privatisation. You could for example trade on the emotional/peer pressure engendered by the environmental hysteria which seems for some reason particularly prevalent in Wgtn.

    A flyer in letterboxes suggesting a tsunamai may result from lack of water conservation for example would probably make a difference in Wgtn. That is, if we were as dumb as your average Aucklander. I said average…

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  48. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    Reid – are you deliberately confusing privitisation with metering? Because it seems to me the two are very different things, and the only reason to say privitisation when you mean metering is because you are attempting an emotive argument, not one based on reason.

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  49. reid (15,912 comments) says:

    Foot in the door Paul. How would they pay for the meters?

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  50. Ari (69 comments) says:

    Simple solution: Institute user-pays, but drop rates by a flat amount equal to the water fee for using the national average. Council only gets extra cash if people are taking more than they really need to.

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  51. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I’m sure somebody has already pointed this out, but an important and possibly paramount reason for charging for water is that it creates a financial incentive to fix leaking pipes.

    Some people argue water is special, our bodies are made of it, so we shouldn’t charge. They are half right, water is precious, and precisely because it is so important a price reflecting that is valuable.

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  52. goonix (140 comments) says:

    An economist’s take on the issue available at TVHE:

    http://tvhe.wordpress.com/2008/11/28/metering-and-the-market-for-water/

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  53. Turpin (342 comments) says:

    # PaulL (2306) Vote: Add rating 1 Subtract rating 0 Says:
    November 27th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Friend in Sydney in one of the new suburbs. Two pipes coming into the house – one potable, one not. All the stormwater and grey water in the suburb goes to a huge holding tank, gets basic purification, comes back for toilet flushing, gardening etc. Far more efficient than everyone having their own tanks.

    what cost retrofit?
    Great idea should be for all new subsections
    one way would be water tanks and use for loos, garden, dishwasher etc.
    what cost per house?

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  54. DayOut (1 comment) says:

    This certainly a hot topic.
    That water should be metered goes without saying but the question needs to be seen in a wider context.

    Water supply is one form of infrastructure. So are electricity and gas supply and communications. The total costs of all these services can be kept in check if consumers know in real time what they are paying. This particularly applies to electricity which can vary widely depending on time of day and the weather.

    The answer is to provide consumers with a console (their pc perhaps) which provides the real time price and aggregate consumption for a chosen period for each of these services.

    Doing this nationwide would be an ideal project for the anticipated infrastructure spend (it would save upstream costs for each service) and would fit in well with proposals for universal broadband.

    An ideal project on which to develop a national exportable expertise.

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  55. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Any fool who believes water is free should live in the country where you quickly learn about the capital costs and the running costs for decent water. At least I can add my microfiltered water to my Scotch which I never do in a Wellington hotel room. Water is free in the same that wind power is free. It ain’t.

    Privatising does not need to set up a monopoly – and certainly private monopolies are worse than public ones.

    However, the French model works. In France the 30,000 local councils (yes they have a Mayor for every few hundred people) own the pipes etc. But they franchise out the management of the supply of water, and the treatment of waste water, to five large companies – some of whom are now so expert they manage water in other countries.
    The Franchise for each “catchment” is for say fifteen years and of course the franchises expire at different time and go out to tender. The end result is that the management of about 5% of the catchments changes hands every year. This means each of the five companies is always sharpening its pencils to either keep their franchise for another term or maybe win another one. This is how we should manage many things in NZ – Medical Labs for example –rather than granting long term regional monopolies.
    But we will never have sensible discussions about such matters while people insist water is free and should not be used for profit. Ah yes, lets nationalise the supermarkets.

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  56. The Vagus Kid (11 comments) says:

    We pay for our water in the small community where I live. This I beleive is fair. We pay for what we use and the costs of getting it to my taps. The payment should hopefully remind users that you cannot use water like a sailor drunken spends money.

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  57. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    what are we paying exorbitant rates for

    If govt hadn’t wasted so much money over the years, we wouldn’t need to pay for water and road user charges and toll roads and road infrastructure.

    IT’S NOT THE PEOPLES FAULT!!!

    and they never lead by example and tighten their own belts

    BASTARDS.

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  58. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “They haven’t enough storage and they have not planned effectively.”

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  59. ratepayer (1 comment) says:

    So where does the Greater Wellington Regional Council get its figure of average water use per person in the Wellington region?

    Basically it takes the volume of water it treats from its four water treatment plants and divides it by the number of people within the four cities of Porirua, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Wellington. This is a dubious way to present individual water usage, as there are other significant components involved. When you strip out industrial usage, community usage, council usage and leakage the real figure is somewhere between 200 and 250 litres per person per day. This amount of usage is typical compared to cities within New Zealand as well as internationally.

    So how will metering reduce usage by 20% to 40%.

    It won’t, international research suggest that a saving of around 10% is realistic. The problem is this saving is an average usage over the year where the supply issue is down to peak demand in drought conditions. People are unlikely to conserve water when their plants are dying, just watch the WCC water like crazy over summer; there is a cost to replacing dead plants. People won’t save when water is so cheap; your water only costs you about $2 for 1000 litres (equivalent price to a 500 ml bottled water). Most people were paying over $2 for 1 litre of petrol ( a rise of over 50%) and consumption only fell a few percent. How much would water need to cost before people consider lowering their usage? The only way to get the price high enough for people to seriously conserve is to privatise the water so huge profits can be made.

    So how much will the meters cost?

    To get a council contractor to excavate in the footpath, install meter, meter box, new valve and pipework, you wont get much change out of $1000 to do the job. There are nearly 120,000 properties in the region that will need meters, this equates to approximately 120 million, not much less than a Dam. These mechanical meters also need to be read, maintained, billed and replaced every 5-10 years because the accuracy deteriorates over time.

    We should also question the logic of having such limited amount of water storage in the region. International best practice suggests that allowing for a 1 in 200 year drought is prudent. Greater Wellington is currently only able to provide for water in a 1 in 30 year drought event. What will happen to the region in a 1 in 200 year event?, how long will we be without water for? Have they taken into account of what it will cost the region to tanker in water if supplies are insufficient?

    Why not build a dam now? How much will it cost the ratepayer to build a Dam? Probably less than a 15% increase in your water rates when financed over 20 years. Wellington City alone have taken in 30 million a year through water charges.

    What is the real reason a Dam is off the agenda? It can’t be cost, Wellington City want the ratepayer to fork out for another 100 million dollar stadium. Would it be that a few environmentalists have convinced the council that preserving a small amount of forest is more important than providing water to the population?

    I think we should let the ratepayers make an informed decision.

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  60. lanana_banana (1 comment) says:

    “Shower: eight minutes under ordinary shower head – 120 litres. Eight minutes under water-efficient shower head – 80 litres.”

    This is bullsh!t. for an assignment I did for uni, i measured the amount of water my shower uses. My shower filled an 8 litre bucket in 3 minutes. Thats 2.6 litres a minute. an 8 minute shower would only use 20.8 litres of water in my non-water efficient showerhead shower, on full strength.

    Hyperbole perhaps??

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