Water upgrade to sting Twizel ratepayers

A multimillion dollar upgrade of Twizel's water supply will lead to rate increases of about 13 per cent for the town's residents.

The Mackenzie District Council's draft annual plan, which went out for public consultation this week, proposes spending more than $2.65 million over the next year upgrading Twizel's water supply.

Last year, the council decided to upgrade the existing water supply near Glen Lyon Rd, after initial investigations for a new source near Ben Ohau proved unsuccessful. It proposes to increase rates for Twizel mid-value properties from $1538.59 to $1744.88 in 2014-15 - a 13 per cent hike.

Mayor Claire Barlow acknowledged the increase would be a shock to Twizel's ratepayers, but the supply did not meet the current Government standards for drinking water.

"There is a risk that this equipment will fail at a time of high demand, such as during the summer tourist season.

"This would cut off the supply of drinking water to Twizel," she said.

Barlow said the supply was originally built by central government in 1968 when Twizel was established for the Upper Waitaki hydro project.

"At the end of this work the infrastructure was gifted to the community for free, and this gift has helped keep rates in Twizel lower than in other areas for many years," she said.

The upgrade is expected to cost $3.5m, but the bulk of the work will take place over the next financial year.

Barlow said Twizel's community board budget had built up more than $1m in reserves but would have to go into deficit to pay for the project.

"This infrastructure is for the next 50 years, it's not for the short term.

A public meeting will be held at the Twizel Events Centre on May 14 to inform ratepayers of the implications. Barlow will attend the meeting.

"It's a chance for the community to hear why we're going through with this," she said.

The council's total expenditure is proposed to increase from $11.08m in 2013-14 to $12.23m in 2014-15.

Other big projects include the finalising of plan change 13, which is still tied up in the Environment Court, and the replacement of the Long Gully, Pioneer Park and Oldfields Rd bridges.

Submissions on the draft annual plan close on June 6.

The Timaru Herald