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Raglan residents to get user-pays water metering

Raglan residents are set to pay more for their water supply from July as the Waikato District Council begins installing water metering and replacing mains about town.
The moves — revealed at a Raglan Community Board meeting last week — mean the “targeted rate” or set amount paid by each householder for water will rise by about 10 per cent, from $240 to $264, for the financial year starting this July 1.
But they also foreshadow the gradual introduction of water metering, effectively a user-pays system, in Raglan over the next five years.
In the first year, 2010/2011, the council intends spending $120,000 on installing water meters and another $141,000 on water-main replacement. It is also budgeting to spend another $11,000 on miscellaneous pipe replacement “as issues arise” — council-speak for as pipes burst or fail.
The Raglan waterworks programme is part of a $2.1 million project to convert the Waikato district over to water metering, rather than have set annual charges, as the council looks to encourage more economical use of water.
The project – endorsed recently by the council’s community services committee — is expected to give rise to public concerns about the potential for privatisation of water supply, the loss of water as a free right and bigger bills for low-income families.
However, deputy mayor and local councillor Clint Baddeley is convinced it’s the way to go. “We need to be smarter with our water use,” says Mr Baddeley who with Mayor Peter Harris has pushed for a holistic approach to the problem by putting together a comprehensive package looking at the district’s water supply, usage, demand management and incentives for saving.
Almost half Raglan’s water supply is metered already, he points out — referring to local businesses — but Cr Baddeley now believes it’s time to develop the package further and in particular to retrofit people’s homes as has happened in Australia and other parts of the country.
A water bylaw introduced just before Christmas, he adds, stipulates that newly built houses have a water collection tank connected specifically for such things as gardening, car-washing and emptying toilets as opposed to straight drinking water.
The aim, he says, is the best use of water and to minimise the consumption of “potable” or drinking water.
Raglan Community Board chairperson Peter Storey is a “user pays” advocate and also believes the move to metered water, in line with many councils around the country, is timely.
“It’s the way it should be, rather than a blanket charge,” he says. He believes people will be more frugal with the natural resource as a result.
The Waikato District Council already meters water use in Te Kauwhata, Meremere, Gordonton, Matangi and Te Akau South, while all new water connections are also metered.
Oddly enough the installation programme about to begin in Raglan will involve the addition of a manifold and backflow preventer to all connections — but no actual meter. That’s because the council wants to wait and piggyback on a new generation of “smart meters” soon to be rolled out by electrical lines companies such as Wel Networks, and capable of reading water consumption as well.
Edith Symes

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