Making water meters affordable for all

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Managing the financial effects on large families and those in New Plymouth’s poorer communities will be a major consideration if our proposal to introduce water meters gets an approval tick in the next 10-Year Plan.

NPDC Group Manager Planning and Infrastructure David Langford says he doesn’t want people scared to turn on a tap because of the cost of water if the $18 million proposal goes ahead.

“We’ll be looking at ways to ease the burden on big families and the less well off, and also employing a Green Plumber to help home owners make their property more water efficient,” he says.   
“But most importantly, if we don’t start looking at what we use, our children will be picking up the bill.”

Mr Langford says with an abundance of rainfall in Taranaki, it’s easy to be complacent about saving water and New Plymouth is already one of the thirstiest regions in New Zealand, with usage up to 60% higher than some comparable regions. 

However, there’s a cost to treat the water we collect from rain, bores and reservoirs and to pump it through 800km of pipes to homes and businesses around the NPDC rohe.

Building more reservoirs and upgrading to bigger pipes isn’t cheap, and we need to prove we’re a responsible kaitiaki when we apply for water consents to draw from streams and rivers. 

But if we could cut our use by a quarter by introducing a water conservation plan that includes fixing leaking pipes, upgrading council buildings to be more water efficient as well as installing residential water meters, we could cut the cost upgrading our water system from $171m over the next 30 years to just $50m.

“Many individual households could save too, as people will only pay for what they use,” Mr Langford says.

“Right now, most households pay a flat rate for water regardless of how much they use. But in other parts of the country, it’s been shown that users take more care when they’re being charged.” 

The proposal to put water meters in 26,000 homes as part of a broader water savings plan is one of the big calls in NPDC’s draft 10-Year Plan. 

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