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‘Waste now, pay later’ a harsh lesson for Capital

Jul 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

water MAIN
WATER-WISE: Residents will have to keep an eye on their water use.

WELLINGTONIANS will be reminded next month that they need to restrict their water use – or pay.

It makes sense that people would opt to make small, manageable changes now, rather than face more expensive alternatives in the near future, says Wellington City Council environment portfolio leader Celia Wade-Brown.

Final amendments are being made to the council’s water efficiency and conservation plan, which will be released by mid-August for public consultation.

Given current levels of demand, the region’s water supply system does not meet “security of supply” standards – that is, no more than a 2% probability of being short of water on any one day in a year.

The plan will encourage people to make water savings in the hope of deferring major capital expenditure on water supply.



Ms Wade-Brown says many water-efficiency measures – like low-flow shower heads and front-loading washing machines – provide energy savings as well. “Some savings just make sense,” she says.

The council’s strategy and policy committee has been discussing water-supply security concerns since June 2008.

Back then, Greater Wellington Regional Council, which provides the city’s bulk water supply, indicated that with an increased population size relying on the same supply infrastructure, the standard was no longer being met.

Wellington will need to reduce its consumption by 14 litres per person per day by 2016, if it is to avoid universal water metering or the building of a new dam, according to a report from council-owned Capacity Infrastructure Services to the strategy and policy committee on June 17, this year.

The regional council has indicated the total cost of establishing a new dam is around $140 million.



Councillor Rob Goulden has noticed many of his constituents fear the idea of water metering because they think it will result in the privatisation of water supply, but he says metering would be council controlled.

A regional approach to water conservation is also important, says Cr Goulden.

The regional council is working with all its customer councils – Wellington, Hutt City, Porirua and Upper Hutt – on demand management strategies, and reports annually on regional water supply.

Some councils are subsidising ratepayer water conservation. Waitakere City Council provides free assessments of water use and free water-saving devices, like shower head flow restrictors, tap aerators and water-efficient toilets.

Waitakere’s council also offers a rain-tank rebate, an idea Ms Wade-Brown says she is keen to promote in the capital.

Wellington receives enough rain to meet demand generally, but in summer – due to a lack of rain and high demand – storage facilities are needed to make up a shortfall in supply.

Unless action is taken to stabilise demand, these shortfalls are likely to become more acute as the city expands, says the Capacity report.

Front page photo: Jenny Downing via Flickr

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  1. And if we hadn’t wasted $11 million on manners st, a dam would only be costing us an extra $129 million, rather than $140 million. Council need to be prioritising its spending and building up its coffers for the inevitable. At some point this city is going to need more supply. Because no one wants meters and controlling demand can only go so far. Interestingly, Kapiti are implementing grey water and subsidised water tank options to increase supply. And the Hutt are tightening up on the hidden water problem – leakage. We are still navel gazing. For the last 3 years our council has been trying to put off making the hard decisions. Well perhaps it time to get back to some basics and put in place some real planning for the future. Perhaps its time for some new voices on our council.

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