Victory for centenarian ratepayer

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 20/09/2012
Con Thode
SHOCKED: Con Thode is an ex-submarine commader.

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The last thing a 101-year-old retired submarine commander needs is another water battle.

Con Thode, who has lived in his rural Okura home for 27 years, is shocked at his first super-city wastewater bill that takes no account of his low water use.

''They want to rob us,'' Thode said.

Watercare calculates its new wastewater charges on water use and initially deemed that all those on tank water pay $582 a year.

It has backed down in the face of a backlash from ratepayers like Thode who were angry it didn't reflect actual water use.

Soon those on tank water will be able to choose whether they want a water meter and be charged volumetrically.

Watercare says the $582 charge is the equivalent of water use of a two to three-person household, plus a fixed $190 charge.

Okura residents previously paid a fixed wastewater charge of $514 to Auckland Council through their rates.

Rates have risen steeply in many North Shore areas and residents now get an additional separate monthly bill from Watercare for water and wastewater.

Thode is only billed for wastewater and his water use is very low.

''I've lived in Okura for 27 years and I have never had to buy water, there's always been enough in the tank. I don't waste water, I've always conserved water,'' he said.

Thode said he is too old to fight the charges.

Other Okura residents are also angry at the new billing system.

Watercare based its calculations on average water use in urban areas, not water-conscious country folk on tank supply, a resident claimed.

''We don't mind paying wastewater rates if they are fair but there is no way we use the amount of water per day that Watercare Services is suggesting,'' said the resident who didn't want to be named.

''The only way to adequately gauge tank water users and the amount of wastewater is to have a flow meter fitted on the sewer line.''

The Okura resident said their household is very conservative with water use and they travel for six months of the year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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