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Meter rollout in catch-up

Water meter being installed in Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Masterton’s water meter rollout is nine months behind schedule, and council staff have discovered water leaks at up to 15 per cent of households where meters had been installed.

Masterton District Council discussed its behind-schedule rollout of water meters at Wednesday’s infrastructure and services meeting.

Assets and services manager David Hopman said the council had run into some resourcing issues, pushing the project back.

“Eighty per cent are in, but 80 per cent isn’t 100 per cent,” he said.

The water meter install was planned to be finished by October 2020.

Hopman said the council would be undertaking a rates review later this year, and water meter charges would be part of that discussion.

A council spokesperson said just over 75 per cent of urban residential properties have had water meters installed, totalling 6769 properties.

Hopman said from the meters that had been put in, council found that up to 15 per cent of households had leaks on the property that would need to be fixed.

It had previously been reported that about 45 per cent of Masterton’s water was lost through cracked pipes

“There is a lot of work to be done on people’s houses – we’re talking dripping taps to leaky pipes under the ground.

“We will be writing to everyone who has had an alarm in the next couple of months to give them a chance to inform us they have a problem”,” Hopman said.

Hopman told the council that they would be setting charges later this year and informing people of their water use.

He said South Wairarapa and Carterton councils had a setup where residents paid for water within rates, but they’d pay more if they were high users or exceeded a set cap.

“This council has an option of adopting that method, or another, that’s a discussion still to be had,” Hopman said.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said council should start encouraging people to check their water meters now.

She hoped people would check their meter once a month and see what their usage was.

She wanted council staff to approximate how much water certain households should be using for residents to gauge where they sat with consumption.

Hopman said that meter installation would encourage a behavioural change in Masterton residents.

“You have to think about the water for your gardening; you think about leaving the tap on when you’re brushing your teeth.”

Hopman reminded council that they didn’t profit from water.

“We will be recouping the costs of delivering the service. That includes pipework renewals. That’s all funded from our water rates.”

A council spokesperson said households with water meters could check them now – simply by lifting the lid on the meter.

“If all taps are turned off, and nothing like washing machines/dishwashers are running, no water is being intentionally used, the numbers on the meter shouldn’t move. If they do, it may indicate a leak that needs investigation.”

The spokesperson said there would not be any charging using meters until the 2022-23 financial year.

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