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Citizens’ group oppose profit motive for water

Feb 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Ron_2

Ron Oliver: Keep profit out of water.

WELLINGTON protestors say water meters are the first step to privatising the city’s water supply.
 
Ron Oliver and Maria van der Meel, of the City Is Ours public action group, are staging an ongoing protest outside the Wellington City Council chambers.

The pair have been holding placards protesting the introduction of water meters to the city, and collecting signatures for a petition to prevent Wellington City Council introducing water meters to homes.

Ron and Maria have so far collected 11,000 signatures and plan to present the petition to the council in May.

Ron says he’s worried that the council is more concerned with privatisation for profit than with water conservation. He suggests grey water recycling systems would do more to reduce water use than metering.

Privatisation of water supply would allow companies to charge for the volume of water used, rather than a flat fee covered by rates as currently happens.

“They want to privatise the water – let it out to private companies,” says Ron. “[If they did that], it’s not serving the public at all.”

Last October, the council passed the water conservation and efficiency plan, moved by councillor Celia Wade-Brown and seconded by councillor Gill Cook.

The plan did not include compulsory water meters, but the council agreed to meet in May this year to discuss the next phase.

Maria_2

Maria van der Meel is one of the leaders of an anti-water-metering campaign.

The plan aims to educate people about water conservation and improve the efficiency of current infrastructure or introduce rainwater tanks before more costly measures – such as a new dam.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard Maclean says: “There has been speculation that water metering could be introduced in the future if conservation efforts do not work… But water meters are not a cheap, cheerful solution to the problem and we have no plans to privatise water at present.”

The protestors hold signs supporting the blog of long-time Capacity opponent Bryan Pepperell.

Mr Pepperell, himself a city councillor, says that when water supply was held by the council it was run at cost but now Capacity aims to earn a profit. Wellington City Council owns the majority (51%) of Capacity, while the remaining shares are owned by Hutt City.

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is a student at Whitireia journalism school. He has worked in television and radio and hopes to further his experience in radio.
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  1. Being completely independant as I live in the Uk I can offer my opinion based on what we do here.
    Essentially we are a nation of most residents being charged on their rates and a minority on a meter. Twenty two years ago you could, if you preferred have a water meter installed for £150.00. The year after it was decided that all new houses would be connected to the water supply through meters and the charge for installation not £150.00 but £1500.00. I remember it well because I was in the process of building my house and I had to pay the £1500.00.
    Having lived in a house where the water bill was based on rates you were not concerned with conserving water – after all you were paying for it and in this country it is always raining.
    Having buit my new house and being billed throgh a meter I found the water bill quite staggering £60.00 per month on average. The consequences of this is that you become very aware of the water you use to the extent that you flush the toilet when you have had to sit down – if you know what I mean.
    Washing the car becomes less routine and you buy a pressure washer because they are supposedly more economical with water. Watering the garden is now a thing of the past and you resort to 50 gallon water catches which always dry up in the summer months. Having a bath is also a thing of the past – pity about the large bath you installed hoping for long hot soaks – not that you do not wash yourself but you use the shower which is more economical.
    A system of local water authorities was introduced gone the old water board. Result the truck which used to go around cleaning the drains is mothballed.
    The UK suffers a water shortage and a ban is immediately placed on hose pipes. Stand pipes are introduced for residents to fill their containers. The public are at a loss because industry has long gone and their consumption with it. We are told that because the drains are choked the water is not flowing back into the system and on top of that the water mains is full of leaks which are too costly to repair.
    In short I do believe in water meters as it is the fairest way to bill consumers as you pay for what you use and consumers have in mind that it is not free and tend to conserve. There is no need for privatisation as my story tells you how that can turn out.
    I hope that this gives you some food for thought – good luck.

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