The cup runneth over….

Kāpiti Council’s plans to install water meters took a decided turn for the worse with revelations that Tauranga City is about to double its fixed water charges. Since water meters were introduced the price of water has escalated in Tauranga.

Kāpiti advocate Dale Evans said the Tauranga experience should be a valuable lesson for the local council here.

“KCDC brought the Tauranga experts down here last month to convince our councillors that water meters were a great idea. I watched as the councillors and mayor spent most of the meeting nodding and asked very few intelligent questions. It was embarrassing that our councillors were so uninformed,” said Mr Evans.

At the same meeting Mr Evans put forward a list of 15 questions relating to water meters and these were treated as an official information request by KCDC.

In the official response it was revealed that over $400,000 had been spent on consultants relating to water meters and just on $10million was spent on installing meters in the 2001-2002 year. On top of that is the annual cost of approximately $523,000.

Mr Evans points out the Tauranga response to his questions also showed that the costs of water meter renewals averaged $90,000 and that in the last 10 years approximately 6,000 meters had been renewed.

On the question of social equity and what happened to those who could not afford the water bill the Tauranga response showed the extensive use of debt collection agencies. No special rate is given to rest homes, schools and non-profit organisations.

Mr Evans said there appeared to be an inconsistency when discussing the life of the meters. Tauranga responded that “the expected life of a water meter is 15 years.” Yet in the first 10 years over 6000 had already been renewed.

Over 7600 Kāpiti coasters signed a petition calling for a referendum on water meters. This was presented by petition organiser Jackie Elliott to the mayor at the KCDC meeting last year. It is estimated the number of signatures is now approaching 10,000.

Mr Evans said the lack of a response from the mayor and council showed the contempt they have for the people that elected them.

“Back in November the mayor said ‘We now have the petition calling for a referendum. It will not be ignored.’ But it has been completely ignored.

“This was the biggest petition ever in Kāpiti and the Council has chosen to ignore it and the people and instead council has gone off on their own agenda.

“We will continue this fight until the people’s voice is finally heard,” said Mr Evans.