Demand down, cost up

Clyde Water Group member Tony Tohill says water metering has been a ''lose, lose'' situation for everyone.
Clyde Water Group member Tony Tohill says water metering has been a ''lose, lose'' situation for everyone.

Water metering has been a ''lose, lose'' situation for everyone - economically and environmentally, a Clyde Water Group spokesman says.

His comments come on the back of a Vincent Community Board meeting in Alexandra on Monday where members were told ratepayers faced increases in their annual uniform charge for water to recover increasing operating costs while demand for water dropped.

Central Otago District Council corporate services manager Susan Finlay said water meter income was a risk area for all community boards as water use had come down and the water meter income had been ''over predicted.''

''The operating component of water has generally gone up and we committed to only changing the volumetric charge every three years so we have to recover costs through the uniform charge.''

''Costs are going up and people's demand patterns have held - which is what we are wanting.''

Coupled with that has been the unusually wet season so we have to take that into account.''

As a result, the board would likely be under budget for its water meter income, she said.

Clyde ratepayers on a town supply would face the biggest jump with an annual uniform charge increasing from $45.10 to $120.

However, they paid considerably less than other ratepayers, she said.

Alexandra residents now paid $249 which could increase by about $70, as could Omakau residents who now paid $736.

Tony Tohill said the council was not only suffering financially for introducing a volumetric charging system in July 2012, but the town was suffering environmentally.

''Not only is less money coming in, but they have turned the place into a tip. It is an economic and environmental disaster. The environment is toast. Everyone has lost pride and passion in their verges.''

Clyde did not produce enough income for use of water because it had about a 45 per cent absentee rate, he said.

The council should have kept a standard $300 connection fee, he said.

''I tried to tell them three years ago - we think there should be a general standard fee across the whole town like it used to be. I have questioned whether the decision to move to metering is even legal. There was no public consultation at the time the decision was made. But I have found dealing with the council, they can't handle being challenged, even if it's to the detriment of the community.''

Ms Finlay said when the decision to move to water metering was made, the council anticipated demand would drop.

''That is actually what we want. It's the reason for putting it in. If we use water wisely then the capacity we have to build into upgrading is less, therefore there are less capital costs so in the long run it costs the ratepayers less.''

And, while water charges were likely to increase, savings were being made in other rateable activities and overall the Vincent was looking at 2.2 per cent rate decrease, she said.

Overall the district was looking at a 3.5 per cent rates increase.

''This is an annual plan meeting so we still have three more community boards to go and the council so that figure could change.''

The community board would discuss the annual plan again next month.


The increase in the amount the council proposes take from the ratepayers for water usage for 2014/2015:

Alexandra: $624,242 increases to $802,641
Clyde: $33,009 increases to $87,909
Omakau: $149,780 increases to $164,478.


The Mirror