New Plymouth councillor the first to volunteer to have his water metered
Sheltering under an umbrella Richard Handley ventured out in the pouring rain to show off his new water meter.
Handley, a New Plymouth District councillor, is the first person in the New Plymouth district to volunteer to have his residential water use measured by a meter.
The New Plymouth District Council was encouraging people to volunteer to get a water meter in an attempt to lower the district's water usage, which at 336 litres per person per day is much higher than the New Zealand average of 275 litres.
Now he has the meter Handley would be charged for the water he used, he said. At the moment residential ratepayers pay $288.44 on their rates bill for water, but if he uses less than average, Handley will pay less.
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Handley doesn't think having his water metered will end up costing him more.
"I'd be surprised if we used more than the average. There's only Virginia and I in this house plus a few grandkids from time to time. We're fairly careful with water."
Many residential properties in New Plymouth already have water meters and since 2014 all new subdivisions have had to have water meters installed for each home.
The metering of water has long been discussed as an option to reduce water usage in the district and therefore potentially defer millions of dollars in upgrades to infrastructure.
While the lack of water isn't an issue in New Plymouth, storage is. Lake Mangamahoe, which covers 70 acres, is New Plymouth's largest water source and would provide water for about 10 days, at the maximum, if it didn't rain.
Council infrastructure manager David Langford said a water meter would be great for someone on a fixed income.
"Or someone who lives on their own, because they don't use very much water, because it's just them. So that will decrease their rates because they will only pay what they use. But it's completely voluntary at the moment."
Water consumption had dropped significantly when meters were introduced in other parts of the country, he said.
"All the information we have at the moment shows that those local authorities that have 100 per cent water metering have the lowest water consumption. There's a strong correlation between the two."