Council wants to cut water wastage

 

BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Tighter water restrictions are inevitable for Masterton residents as the town seeks to renew its consent to take water from thew Waingawa River – and water meters are likely.

Public consultation on water meters will take place in April.

Masterton District Council assets and operations manager David Hopman said the changes to the consent alterations reflected the council’s desire to do its bit for the environment.

“Our new consent will be very much focused on restricting and managing water when rivers are low,” he said.

“And will require us to do more sprinkler bans and more control, which will lead us to looking at putting water meters in to manage the flow.”

Water meters would be used as a tool for the council to manage water usage and identify leaks, and as a result charge those using a high volume of water.

Meters could reduce demand by 30 per cent, according to council estimates.

If the council commits to the installation of water meters in each household, it would catch up to both Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils who have had the system in place for a decade.

Carterton District Council and South Wairarapa District Council both introduced metering to all households in 2008.

Carterton allows households to use 225m3 per year before charging by volume kicks in, while South Wairarapa’s level is 350m3 per year.

Mr Hopman said the new consent focused on linking the water restrictions in town with the levels of the river.

“We will be very much changing our messaging to users in Masterton to conserve water because its good to link it to the actual river conditions, and the environmental impacts.”

“When the farmers can’t irrigate because of the river levels, sprinkler bans will be enforced in the urban areas because we are all working to the same objective maintaining the water levels for ecological values.”

Instead of day about sprinkler ban, the council may enforce a full sprinkler ban during the peak summer months.

MDC is working with Greater Wellington Regional Council to explore ways it can manage water conservation.

GWRC environment management general manager Nigel Corry said the consent was a renewal of the existing consent but with a stronger focus on water management.

“We work with MDC on water conservation, education around water usage, and sustainable management of water resources,” Mr Corry said.

One of the main driver to this council collaboration was to set in place good strategies for when the weather is drier, he said.

Carterton District Council then dropped its water allocation per household by 75m3 to 225m3 in 2015, CDC planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings said.

“The allocation has been the basis of water charges over this amount with the vast majority of households well within this allowance.”

The council was considering upgrading the meters to ‘smart meters’ which would improve efficiency of readings and allow early detection of leaks.

South Wairarapa District Council started to charge for excess water usage in 2010 which saw a “substantial reduction in water use”, Lawrence Stephenson assets and operations manager said.

Any usage above the threshold of 350m3 is charged at a rate of $1.84 per m3.

“Principally SWDC use water meters to monitor for internal property leak detection and to charge for any excessive water usage.”