Where it goes, no-one knows
Queenstown's CBD scores a "D" for water leakage rates, the lowest of the World Bank's measured standards, but no-one knows where the water goes.
The resort's water demand management plan underwent heavy discussion at yesterday's last full meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District Council for the year, but the end result was that water leakage, the reason behind it and where the masses of spilled water end up is a mystery.
Figures show that Queenstown's 7658 water connections used almost 5 million cubic meters of water in the past financial year, with a leakage rate of 47 per cent.
Of the $553,000 spent on pumping that water, almost $261,000 went down the drain, having pumped water destined to leak.
The council hopes to slash $100 million off the water bill district-wide during the next decade, and is tackling the cost-cutting bid by the launch of a campaign to reduce water use and trying to fix the leakage problem on public and private land.
However, even council infrastructure boss Erik Barnes was stumped on where to begin, saying he could not explain the leakage levels, other than saying increased monitoring would have to take place before the problem could be effectively tackled.
Council chief executive Adam Feeley said a practical approach was needed to tackle the problem, and road maintenance involving underground work could be dovetailed with leakage detection and repair. "If leaks were detected during road renewal, the (road) work could be brought forward to tackle water pipe replacement."
Although taking such measures could be expensive in the short term, long-term savings would "far outstrip" the constant flow of money going into leaky water pipes, Mr Feeley said.
However, the spectre of tackling water use through introducing water meters and charging for water use was raised by Mr Feeley. "Whether we have to change behaviours through volumetric charging hasn't been discussed, but I feel it is responsible for council to bring that forward. We need to compare our use to the rest of the country."
The cost of a water meter is $400, and the council will install about 60 meters in locations such as Queenstown Airport, Lakes Leisure, service stations and large hotels to monitor water use over the current financial year.
The meters are measuring water use and location owners will not be charged.
The Southland Times