Should we install water meters on all properties on our drinking water schemes?

We provide drinking water to 70% of our residents through 12 schemes. However, we estimate we could be losing up to 50% of our water from the system – either through leaks or inefficient use.

This project would put a water meter on every property on our water schemes so that we can detect any abnormal usage and fix any leaks that are identified.

We want to be clear that the installation of the meters is for leak detection, and therefore, we don’t intend to charge ordinary water users.

Please note that this project excludes Methven-Springfield and Montalto water schemes as they already have restricted usage.

We fund our drinking water supplies together in a ‘club’ rate (a targeted uniform annual charge). This means that all properties connected to one of our drinking water supplies (again except Methven-Springfield and Montalto) all pay the same charge.

We are losing up to 50% of our drinking water to leaks. We plan to install water meters on all connections to our drinking water supplies for leak detection. WE DO NOT PLAN TO CHARGE FOR WATER IN THIS DRAFT TEN YEAR PLAN, BUT THE FUTURE FUNDING OF WATER WILL BE REVIEWED IN THREE YEARS’ TIME.

Why do we think this is a good idea?

Water leaks are costing us - we still have to pump and treat the water (including the costs of chemicals and electricity) regardless of whether it is being used.
At the moment, estimating our water loss is a calculation which includes many assumptions. We don’t know how accurate this is. Water meters would mean we would know more accurately how much water is being lost from the public network. They will also help us to identify leaks in individual properties – meaning they can be fixed much quicker.

We already have meters on some properties. Any new house that is built in our district and connected to one of our water supplies, has a meter installed. As do any connections that are renewed. Some towns where we have had issues in the past with large leaks, such as Mt Somers and Mayfield, already have them too. This means we already know how successful meters are for identifying and fixing leaks

In the future, when we are renewing water consents for our drinking water supplies, we will need to demonstrate good stewardship of the water. If we want to increase the amount of water allocated to a water supply, we will need to show a need for more – and that this couldn’t be reasonably achieved through reducing the amount lost. Data from the drinking water meters will allow us to do this.

As more properties are built, more water is required. In simple terms, reducing the amount of water that is lost from the system will increase the amount of available water in the pipe - meaning we will able to provide more houses with the amount of water they require, with the infrastructure we already have.

Water is a resource that is necessary for our health, and for the health of our ecosystems that support our essential flora and fauna. With climate change likely to increase the frequency and intensity of drought events around the world, it is more important now than ever, that we reduce the amount of water we are losing in order to protect and conserve this precious taonga.

In short, we need to reduce the amount of water that is lost from the system, and we think meters are the best way forward.

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