Fixing leak remains a pipe dream

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013
Fay Martin/Leaky pipe
Mark Taylor/FAIRFAX NZ

Water woes: Fay Martin is angry over the waste of water from a leak beneath the driveway she shares with neighbours.

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A Hamilton resident says water is being wasted through faulty and fragile pipes on her shared driveway, and she cannot understand why it is taking so long to be fixed.

Nawton resident Fay Martin, in her 60s, said she was shocked at the council's reluctance to make her neighbours fix their leaking pipes, particularly when the city faced water restrictions.

Hamilton City and Waikato District have had water restrictions in place since late last year and both remain at Alert Level 2, meaning sprinkler systems at residential properties are permitted from 6am to 8am and 6pm to 8pm on alternate days.

Water fountains around Hamilton have been turned off, while "non essential" water-related work, such as water-pipe flushing and footpath washing, have been scaled back to conserve water.

However, Ms Martin said the council's lack of action in dealing with the pool of water that had formed at the top of her driveway made her feel like she was talking to a brick wall.

"I'd hate to think of the litres that have gone down that drain," Ms Martin said.

The pool, which spans the width of the right-of-way where each driveway converges, has been leaking from multiple points for more than a month.

Before the latest leak, neighbouring properties, including Ms Martin's, had repaired leaking pipes at the same point.

Ms Martin said she called the council on January 7 and 8, then twice during the week starting January 28, about the leaking pipe, but was told by the council that its hands were tied because the pipe was on private property.

But Ms Martin maintains the council could force the landlord that owns the property to get it repaired.

"They [the council] are quick to give penalties when you don't pay your account, but they're not quick to do their job."

However, Hamilton City Council's water manager, Tim Harty, said the council was doing its best to resolve a private property issue involving six residences.

"We can't just whip in there and do the job.

"We've got to track down the people, have a conversation with them. Then, it has got to be affordable for them as well."

Mr Harty said the service connections to the properties were "passed their used-by date", and the council was trying to get several people, including properties being managed by real estate companies, together to find an appropriate solution.

A letter, outlining options and costs, was likely to be sent out this week.

Under the region's water supply bylaw, residents who let the condition of the plumbing on their property deteriorate to the point where leakage or wastage occurred, were liable for a fine of up to $20,000.

Failure to comply with water restrictions or prohibitions is an offence that can carry $500 fines on conviction.

Mr Harty said there was no-one in this instance who had been obstructive.

A long-term solution could be as much as $1500 to $2000 for each property, Mr Harty said.

Hamilton City Council estimates that water losses through the city's piping network amounted to about 16 per cent. The council would be trying to reduce that figure by 40 per cent over the next five years.

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harry.pearl@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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