Water Meters – savings equals price hike

Kāpiti Coast Councillors heard that under the Tauranga water meter scheme reductions in water usage means water prices go up.

A presentation to the KCDC Corporate Business Committee by John Sternberg and Peter Bahrs showed the Tauranga experience had resulted in delaying the cost of new infrastructure and they advised KCDC to follow a similar path.

It would appear however that the economics are highly questionable in terms of protecting the consumers from escalating water prices.

The meeting heard water prices had risen consistently in Tauranga since the introduction of metering.

“The water supply service is a self funding arm of Council and must generate sufficient revenue to operate the system. As consumption falls there needs to be a pricing adjustment to bring in the required amount of revenue,” said Mr Bahrs.

In Tauranga there has also been a significant downturn in business as well as many businesses closing down. In turn, water consumption has dropped sharply in the sector and much of the $2million shortfall will be passed on to domestic users via price increases.

The meeting was not well attended by the public as the item was a late inclusion on the agenda.

During public speaking time local identity and former Paraparaumu/Raumati community board deputy chair Dale Evans berated Council for the late notice of this item. “More than 7700 signed a petition calling for a referendum on water meters and many of them would have turned up had they known the meeting was on,” said Mr Evans.

Mr Evans put several questions to the meeting which included who was paying the costs of the officials from Tauranga and how much “has been spent on advertising in local papers regarding water meters by Council to convert non-believers.”

Mr Evans also asked the Mayor for a direct and honest answer, yes or no, to the referendum on water meters. “Are we going to have a referendum?”

He did not get his answer but Committee Chair Ross Church gave Mr Evans an assurance that his questions would be treated as an Official Information Request and they would all be taken seriously and answered.