by Eva and Geoffrey Churchman
If there’s been one issue that’s upset Kapiti people more than any other over the last decade — and it certainly has us — it’s been the pointless water meters that were pushed hard under former Mayor Jenny Rowan with council boss Mr Dougherty. Then in 2013 the then Cr Ross Church defeated her in the election on this issue — but then immediately did a U turn and got the meters adopted at the first council meeting after the election.
Next came Guru who had also opposed them, and defeated Ross Church in 2016. But as everyone knows, they are still there.
They may cease to be a KCDC matter if Nanaia Mahuta’s ‘3 waters’ council assets confiscation goes through — and she’s clearly determined it will. Nevertheless, the existence of the meters in the ground will remain, and before her new bureaucracy is bedded in, there could be a change of government late next year. Both National and ACT have said they will abolish Mahuta’s centralised, unaccountable bureaucracy.
It wouldn’t be too hard to disestablish the meters, all the council needs to do is stop billing, and the fixed charge component can go back to being included in general rates.
Kapiti is a high rainfall area, between 1 and 1.5 metres a year and this year will be at the upper end of that range, if not exceed it.
Are we short of water? Hardly. About half the year we have too much of it. During the hot dry summer months, usually from Christmas to the end of March, is when the shortages occur, but the Rowan council decided instead of the obvious sensible answer of a reservoir, to put in place a scheme (see our posts from 2015) to pump bore water into the river to replace extra water taken from the river just upstream. The cost of this, plus the cost of the meters would have paid for a dam.
The council justifies the meters by saying that it helped to identify leaks in pipes, but nearly three-quarters of them were on council land, not private property. Nevertheless, job done.
Then there is the cost of maintaining the meters and billing out the charges — 6 years ago this was $300,000 a year, it’s sure to be more now.
There is also the issue of larger households bearing a disproportionately high burden from the volumetric charges than smaller households.
Finally there is going to be the big bill of replacing all the meters as they are only supposed to have a 10 year lifespan and that will expire next year. How much will that cost? We’ll ask, but it will be well into the millions.
Ask the KCDC candidates what their stance on the meters is.