Water meters: Kapiti votes to ask public

05:43, Apr 05 2012
Michaela Pottinger tests the tap water in Invercargill last summer.
Kapiti District Council will make a final decision on user-pay water charges in June.

Kapiti Coast District Council has voted unanimously to start public consultation on a charging regime for water meters as opponents continue to battle for a ratepayers referendum.

The regime is based on a 50 per cent fixed charge and 50 per cent variable charge based on water use, described by mayor Jenny Rowan as fair and affordable, providing a stable revenue  to cover the cost of running the water supply system.

Ms Rowan said the charging regime was fundamental to the debate about water meters. 

"Last year Council adopted water meters in principle but made it clear that a final decision would not be made until a charging regime and its effects had been put before residents for comment. That moment has come."

Information on the charging formula and the relative impact on households and businesses will be sent to all households in the district, and there will be a random survey of at least 1,000 households.

Four members of the public opposing water meters called for a referendum on the issue during public speaking time at today's meeting.

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Jackie Elliot, who organised a 7662-signature petition last year calling for a ratepayer referendum on the issue, said the reason petition signatories wanted a referendum was because ''we simply no longer trust this council's attitude to the submission and consultation process.

''Stop rushing to push the introduction of water meters through before the results of [local body] amalgamation plans are clear. Stop pushing the cost of living here out of reach for future Kapiti Coasters,'' Mrs Elliot said.

When councillors rejected calls for a referendum, councillor K. Gurunathan cast a dissenting vote.

Kapiti regional councillor Nigel Wilson told the meeting water meters would not be needed if Kapiti was part of a supercity as the district could be connected to the regional water supply.

Ms Rowan said the district needed a stand-alone supply, irrespective of any future governance changes.

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said a connection to the regional bulk water supply system had been investigated as one of 41 supply options but did not make the short list because of costs and timing.

The cost is estimated to be about $27 million.

Waikanae community board chairman Michael Scott said residents who had been "sold" on water meters would be shocked at the proposed charging regime as they had first been led to believe they would not be charged for using less than 400 cubic metres per day.

A final decision on metering will be made in June with district-wide installation expected to take about 15 months.

The Dominion Post