17 Jan 2018

Pressure building on water restrictions

5:08 pm on 17 January 2018

Summer arrived early to much of the country this year - and with it water restrictions.

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Photo: 123r

As the climate changes, making weather more unpredictable, it's expected more councils will consider using meters to help bring water usage down, and pay for critical infrastructure.

Water meters were introduced by the Kapiti Coast District Council in 2014, despite strong opposition from residents.

Three years later, deputy mayor Janet Holborow said the district was using less water.

"Particularly outside use was very big in Kapiti, so now people are a lot more aware when they go to water their gardens, how they're going to use water.

"There's also been quite a drop in consumption due to identifying leaks and making sure the system is working optimally."

Ms Holborow said while water restrictions were enforced early this summer in the Hutt Valley and Wellington it was unlikely they would be needed in Kapiti.

According to Water New Zealand, 15 councils have some sort of charging by volume on residential water.

Its latest review of water services shows evidence councils with meters do not have to impose water restrictions.

Technical manager Noel Roberts said water was not highly valued in New Zealand, a relatively water-rich country.

"So people sort of take it for granted. As pressures come on to this system... such as climate change, then having water valued and appreciated, metering's part of the tools for that."

Mr Roberts said a recent survey showed people were in favour of paying for their water.

But in Napier, which almost ran out of water in December after usage soared on a hot day, the cost of installing water meters means they were not on the agenda in the foreseeable future.

Mayor Bill Dalton said getting meters in place would cost ratepayers $7-$8 million.

"If we can avoid it we will because it's not very palatable for ratepayers. Frankly if we can manage our water supply as we're doing at the moment by people in odd number houses only watering on odd days of the week and vice versa then we can do without water meters, and if we can do without them - we should."

Mr Dalton says he was confident Napier can manage its water supply without meters.

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