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Kapiti pays the price for saving water

Jul 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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WATERLESS GARDENING: Allan and Beverley Taylor's garden needs little watering (see below).

GARDENERS on the Kapiti Coast are being asked to think twice before turning sprinklers on this summer.

The district council wants homeowners on town water supply to reduce their outdoor water usage in summer by up to 30% with approved water conservation systems.

Later this year, the council will be offering interest-free loans for people wanting to install their own rain water and grey water tanks.

They estimate they will need to borrow up to $4.7 million over the next five years to fund the loans.

water tanks1The homeowner will pay the loans back over 10 years and the interest on the loans will be covered by everyone on the town water supply through rates increases.

However, the increase will depend on the number of people taking out a loan over the five years.

Council spokesman Ben Thompson says they are budgeting for about 450 households a year taking up the offer by the end of 2015, which at the high end, will add about an extra 0.7% – or $14 a year – to the rates.

water tanks Ben

BEN THOMPSON

He says the council has to rely primarily on rates to fund schemes, and water conservation is not about saving money, but about saving water for the common good.

“We need to recognise that our water is a precious resource and it’s everyone’s responsibility to look after, not just the council.”

During summer, daily town water use rises to 650 litres a person, and they want to get that back down to 400 litres.

There is only so much water that can be provided, he says, and people need to garden within these limits.

The interest-free loan scheme will be launched in December and is part of the council’s 50-year sustainable water plan.

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OWN RESERVOIR: This concrete tank can be buried under ground.

Funding is limited, so the council will initially set caps on the amount of money available to each area.

Homeowners in Raumati, Paraparumu and Waikanae will have priority, being the areas of highest growth and highest population base.

Fewer Otaki and Paekakariki residents (10% and 5% respectively) will be funded because their areas are slower-growing with smaller rating bases.

It has not been decided if there will be a cap on the amount loaned. The interest-free loans will be paid back over ten years as part the property’s rates and can be paid weekly or quarterly.

The council will be promoting the four most cost-effective water conservation options: 

  • refitting existing tanks (up to $2500);
  • 5000 litre rain water tanks (about $3000);
  • grey water recycling systems (about $2300);
  • 10,000 litre rain water tanks (about $5000).

Rain water tanks and grey water recycling systems – together with good practice gardening techniques – will help homeowners achieve the 400 litre usage target, he says.

TOO THIRSTY: Gardens that need less water will be preferable.

TOO THIRSTY?: Gardens that need less water will be preferable.

PRECIOUS COMMODITY: Waikanae River.

PRECIOUS COMMODITY: Waikanae River.

They will consider alternative systems, since they want to give people flexibility to choose the best option for their property.

Success will depend on how well the scheme is promoted so people understand how to use their tanks effectively, and see water conservation as an investment decision when planning their garden.

He says people generally support water conservation, but it comes down to how much they are willing to pay for it.

Support for the scheme and its effectiveness will be monitored year-on-year to decide whether the council will continue with the interest-free loans or pull the plug.

The council has already made it compulsory for all new homes built since February, 2008, to have a water tank and/or grey water recycling system.

Local builder, Home Creators owner Dave Smithson, has appealed against this district plan change to the Environmental Court, saying it is unfair and inequitable. The case is in mediation.

Mr Thompson says this is unlikely to affect the council’s support of the interest-free loan scheme.

How to garden with little water

Paraparaumu residents Allan and Beverley Taylor designed their garden to need very little watering – and no weeding.

About 18 months ago, they spent $6000 installing a 6500 litre rain water tank and a grey water system to recycle all their bathroom water.

Allan says they have never had to use town water for the garden or any other outdoor use.

Environmentally minded and worried about the amount of water used on lawns and flower beds over summer, they said “no lawn” when they moved into their new house.

Instead, they used crushed lime and pebble beds for planting natives, including grasses and flaxes, which are hardy to the salt winds and easy to maintain.

Beverley says native plants have a beauty of their own, producing some wonderful berries and flowers, as well as attracting native birds which are “incredibly colourful”.

“Our garden has looked good all summer long – and we feel we use considerably less water than anybody else.”

Grey water

Grey water is a “diversion” system to send the water from washing machines and bathrooms to areas of the garden where it is needed most.

There is no defined policy for grey water in New Zealand but the council is following best international practice and working with other councils on codes of practice to minimise any risk with tacit government approval.

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