The Kapiti Coast's new water meter charges will see the average household pay at least $30 a year extra - and bigger families up to $200 more.
Yesterday, Kapiti Coast District Council endorsed a draft charging scheme that would kick in once water meters start operating across the district on July 1.
At present, all households pay a flat rate for water of $357 a year.
From July 1, all users will pay a fixed charge of $188.50 a year, plus 95 cents for every cubic metre.
Kapiti Mayor Ross Church said a cubic metre was about 15 buckets. According to council figures, the average household will end up paying about $388 a year.
A one-person household will be looking at an annual bill, depending on usage, of $250-$380; a three-person household $325-$450; a five-person household $480-$500; and a seven-person household $420-$540.
Councillor Gavin Welsh suggested yesterday that the ratio between fixed charges and usage charges be altered from 50:50 to 75:25 to reduce the impact on big families. But after seeing council figures, he conceded the 50:50 split would be fairer.
He encouraged large families struggling with the charges to make use of the council's financial hardship grant.
The scheme, included in the draft Annual Plan, will now go out for community consultation.
Mr Church was pleased the plan had reached this stage. "We need to know if we are headed in the right direction," he said. "The main aim is to get consumption down."
Although initially opposed to meters, he said the council had spent $8 million installing them and it was too late to go back.
"The decisions are made . . . we have water meters, we need to use them."
Meters could be reviewed after two years, he said, and he did not rule out building a dam later.
Waikanae Community Board chairman Michael Scott said that, when the system was first proposed three years ago, there was going to be a free allocation, but the council had moved away from that.
"There is no way to compensate people for that expectation . . . We should have a certain amount delivered to every household charge-free before volumetric charging begins."
Jackie Elliott said she remained opposed to volumetric charging and considered the most valuable use of meters was as a conservation tool.
"Kapiti's annual rainfall is consistent and reliable, the dam remains the only sensible long-term option," she said.
- The Dominion Post
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