Meters record drop in water use
The amount of water Central Otago households are using each day has dropped significantly compared to a year ago.
The Central Otago District Council introduced a user-pays water charging system in the middle of last year, which it believed had increased people's awareness of the amount of water they were using and was one of the reasons for the decrease.
There are 6920 water connections in Central Otago's three main centres of Alexandra, Cromwell and Clyde.
During summer 2011-2012 those connections used 28.3 million litres on the peak day.
That amount dropped by 5.8 million litres to 22.5 million on the peak day during the same period this year.
The amount of water used by each household on the peak day dropped by 890 litres in Alexandra this year compared to last, by 670 in Cromwell, and by a huge 1340 in Clyde.
Changing the irrigation source for Alexandra's Pioneer Park and Cromwell's Anderson Park and Alpha Street Reserve, from the town water supply to bores, had also reduced the take from the town supply, as had replacing the inefficient water gun irrigation system at Clyde's Seaton Square with a ground system.
The water meters installed as part of the new user-pays system had also enabled people to identify and mend leaks on their own properties.
For example, a survey found 15 per cent of water pumped in Clyde was going straight down the drain and three-quarters of those leaks were on private property.
The cooler and wetter summer this year to date was also affecting the amount of water people were using.
Water services manager Russell Bond said that by installing water meters the council was trying to get people to value water and think about whether they were making the best use of the precious resource.
In other parts of the country where meters had been installed consumption of water on peak days had dropped 20 to 30 per cent.
The uniform annual charge used to cover all water costs was reduced to just enough to fund the water infrastructure, and meters were installed on most connections, with the property owner billed three times a year.
Under the new system, the uniform annual charge in Alexandra dropped from $550 during the 2011-2012 year to $193 this year, from $227 to $106 in Cromwell, and from $298 to $52 in Clyde.
This year's uniform annual charge ranged from $254 to $729 in other parts of the district.
It varied depending on the number of connections to each supply.
There was a a higher charge for fewer connections because there were fewer ratepayers to share the cost.