Wellington's mayors can agree on one thing — water meters are coming.
Greater Wellington Regional Council chairperson Daran Ponter on December 14 issued mayors in Wellington, Hutt City, upper hutt, and porirua an ultimatum: His council would consider a higher charge for water supply beyond allocated limits if it did not see plans for water meters by January 31.
Hutt City Mayor Campbell Barry and Porirua Mayor Anita Baker responded within days, while Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau waited until nine days before the deadline and Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy waited two days before deadline.
But all agreed that water meters — by which users pay for the amount of water used — were inevitable. The cost of installing water meters has previously been put at $1500 to $2000 per household ‒ up to $300 million for the 151,000 households across the region. Kāpiti, where water supply is not under threat this summer, already has meters.
It is a lot of money, but a necessary investment. Water meters are a good form of user pays which encourage water conservation, and also allows leaks to be much more easily detected.
The grandmother who uses 50 litres of water a day shouldn't pay the same as the family of five using 400 litres a day.
David Farrar runs Curia Market Research, a specialist opinion polling and research agency, and the popular Kiwiblog where this article was sourced. He previously worked in the Parliament for eight years, serving two National Party Prime Ministers and three Opposition Leaders.