Water meters floated to tackle dry summer

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014

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Water meters could be installed on properties in New Plymouth if dry summers continue.

New Plymouth District Council general manager of infrastructure Jim Willson says water meters would be one way of helping the district conserve its water supply.

If the council did have to resort to these measures it could cost many millions of dollars to install and implement, Willson said.

Water restrictions were imposed this year for 58 days throughout the district.

An odds-and-evens system was introduced, while some areas had a total hose ban.

Willson presented the imposed water restrictions to council's monitoring committee for ratification this week.

Councillor Keith Allum was quick to question Willson on council's management plan for the future.

"Every summer we seem to get water restrictions," Allum said.

"Niwa have told us that . . . we are going to get hotter, drier summers. Also we're building more and more subdivisions and I wondered what the staff have in place for alleviating the water restrictions in the future, because they are only going to get worse."

Willson said the first mitigation measure would be meters that recorded how much water was used at a property and allow council to charge for that usage.

"There is evidence within the industry that when you put meters on properties there is an instantaneous drop of usage by 20 per cent," he said.

"A lot of that is people find that their pipes on their own properties leak and therefore they are paying for water that is leaking into their ground."

The other measures were further reservoirs and the investigation of ground water supplies, he said.

"It is an issue that is certainly testing us at the moment."

Willson said he suspected a lot of the water was going straight into gardens throughout the district.

When it rained, water use went down by about 9 million litres in a 24-hour period because people did not need to hose their gardens, he said.

Councillor Marie Pearce questioned if the council would encourage people to put in their own water tanks in the future.

Willson said there was certainly an option for residents to store their own water.

There were no plans to install water meters yet, but if the issues continued a report would be prepared for council outlining in more detail the options that were available.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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