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Angry residents pipe up over water supply

John Booth. PHOTO/FILE

Confusion over water issues

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Angry residents of Chester Rd, Carterton, were reduced to shouting demands for information after 30 minutes of discussion with Carterton district councillors on Wednesday left them no better informed about the fate of their water supply.

About 20 disgruntled residents attended the council’s infrastructure and services committee meeting and were quick to raise their voices, temporarily halting the committee vote as one resident called out “you keep talking about proposals but we don’t know what the proposals are”.

The residents had previously received a letter regarding the poor condition of the water main which supplies their properties.

In it, the council said the options were to either replace the pipe or abandon the current service – though that option would in reality affect only six properties north of the cemetery.

The council is proposing these be set up for self-supply, with the remaining 16 properties continuing to receive their existing service.

Any new connections would go on to a ‘trickle supply’ which affected some residents who had recently bought new sections on the street.

However, confusion continued 30 minutes into Wednesday’s discussion as the unaffected residents still did not know whether they would be losing their supply.

The committee voted in principle to abandon the water supply in the section north of the cemetery, causing even more uncertainty and outrage as residents interrupted proceedings with loud interjections.

One woman asked, “You’ve got two people over there who don’t agree with that, but you’ve just decided it – do we not have a voice?”

“It’s a done deal,” another resident said.

Chief Executive Jane Davis tried to ease the tension by telling residents they wouldn’t be any worse off than they were now.

“We’re not cutting off the supply until there’s a replacement or alternative in place,” she said.

A long-time resident, Bernie Ellison, said she was happy to be set up by council for self-supply but did not want the issue to be “swept under the carpet” as she said it had been after a meeting in 2010.

“Don’t go away for 10 years again and let it rear its head,” she said. “We don’t want to go away from this meeting again with nothing.”

Not all residents were happy with this option, saying they deserved to receive continued mains supply. Rural residents had been treated as second best to urban residents for too long, was the message.

“You’ve taken enough of our money over the years to spend on the masses, why not get the masses to spend some money on us?” one resident asked.

Another demanded council adhered to its obligations under section 135 of the Local Government Act 2002 which refers to the criteria for transfer of a water service.

Melvin Pike, resident and member of the council’s water race committee, said the historic issues had left them feeling “disenfranchised” and urged council “to protect the whole town, not just the top end”.

Others were upset they had bought their houses only weeks prior, with the purchase price reflecting the benefit of being a rural property on town water supply.

Another said she had approached council before her house purchase, and there was no mention of a possible reduction of the water supply.

She had only been in the house for 12 weeks before receiving the letter.

“It was very distressing.”

Mayor John Booth acknowledged the miscommunication, saying it would need to be “a lot better than it has been”.

“I would just like to reiterate that before anything is done, these people are well consulted with, spoken to, and listened to.

“It’s very critical after what I’ve heard today.”

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