The following are a number of FAQs relating to water meters and CRAG.
Why is Council introducing water meters?
To keep the costs of supplying water to the Kapiti Coast District as low as possible. The introduction of water meters will lead to a drop in water use, therefore reducing the cost of upgrading/maintaining our water supply, extending its life-time and delaying any upgrades.
How much water can we save through installing water meters?
By introducing water meters, Council expects peak demand to drop by an estimated 25%. A further 5% can be saved from leak detection. Peak demand is the most water the community will use in any one day of the year. It is this figure that drives investment in infrastructure – the size of pipes, fittings, the treatment plant and pumps etc.
What is the cost of introducing water meters? Is it really worth it?
It will cost around $8 million dollars to install water meters. In comparison, by bringing peak demand down by an estimated 25%, Council can delay spending up to $36 million on infrastructure for at least 20 years. This is a significant saving for current Kapiti ratepayers.
Am I paying anything for water at the moment?
You are already paying a fixed charge for water as part of your rates - around $357 annually for all property owners. This portion of your rates will be removed and water will be billed separately.
What will I pay under the new charging scheme?
You will pay an annual fixed charge of $188.50 and a volumetric charge of $0.95 per cubic metre of water used.
Would the cost of water have risen without water meters?
The cost of water would have gone up whether or not we put in water meters. The annual fixed charge of $357 we all currently pay would have gone up to $377 in the next financial year if we had continued with the current system.
Costs rise as our infrastructure expands to match population and demand. If we built a dam now, the cost of water would rise sharply because of the cost of the dam. If we completed the Waikanae River Recharge Scheme without introducing meters, the cost of water would also have risen. Charging via water meters will reduce peak water demand, resulting in significant savings.
Are meters just another way for Council to generate revenue for other projects?
No. Council will continue to run a ‘closed account’ on water revenue. The money earned from water charges can only ever be spent on water activities.
If consumers used more water than projected, there would be a surplus against water supply costs. Any surplus money would stay in the water account i.e. it would not be used for other Council projects. Water charges will be reviewed every year and revised as necessary.
Could water meters be the first step towards privatisation?
Under existing law public water supply cannot be privatised. Council has taken additional steps to ensure that direct control of management and operation of water services is maintained.
It seems meters only reduce demand for water, not increase the supply. Surely we need more water long-term to meet demand?
Water charging via meters is just one part of our long-term water solution. Other parts include:
When will the new water charging system begin?
Water charging, with a 50% fixed charge ($188.50 annually) and a 50% volumetric charge for water use ($0.95 per cubic metre/1,000 litres), started for most people from 1 July when opening reads of water meters are taken for charging purposes. Readings will continue until mid-July and first water invoices will be sent several months later.
However, people who have not been sent two trial readings for their property will not pay the volumetric charge until they have both readings. This charge will not be backdated to 1 July. They will still pay the fixed charge like everyone else from that date.
What happens if I find a leak inside my boundary?
The water supply bylaw requires all property owners to keep their water pipes and fixtures (toilets, appliances and taps etc) well maintained.
You can apply to Council to have the estimated cost of water lost from your leak taken off your first invoice and only pay for average water use for a similarly-sized household/business. You will need to show you have taken steps to fix the leak.
Leaks will need to be fixed before your next invoice is sent. This will stop water being wasted from leaks and the cost of that water being on your invoices.
What does this mean in practice – what will I have to pay?
A chart outlining estimated costs for different-sized households with no garden or a standard-sized garden/lawn, has been published in newspapers and is available on this website. Generally speaking, smaller households with little or no garden will be paying less for water than they would without meters, while larger households or heavy users of water and those with large gardens could be paying more. People with higher water use should check for leaks and look at ways to reduce their water use.
Doesn’t this system disadvantage larger families?
CRAG believes this tariff structure is the most fair and equitable of all those looked at, as people pay for the amount of water they use – those who use less water will no longer subsidise those who use more.
How can this help?
Council will make available a rates’ rebate of up to $300 per rateable property for those ratepayers/applicants who meet a specified criteria. A fund of $125,000 has also been provided for rates remissions for those experiencing financial hardship. In addition, Council has another $125,000 fund in place to provide financial assistance for low-income residents in financial hardship as recommended by CRAG. A further $50,000 is available for remissions on water rates for larger, low-income households and a $25,000 fund for significant one-off expenditure which can be used for leak repairs. Criteria apply.
What will the cost of a residential water meter be and is it pro-rated over time on our rates or a one-off charge?
The capital cost of the water meter installation project is being funded from loans managed within agreed Council Capital Expenditure Budgets. It is expected that a single residential water meter can be priced in the vicinity of $90 (GST exclusive). Where a manifold installation is required, the estimated full cost of installation, including meter purchase is $400 (GST exclusive). Individual residential properties will not be billed directly for the installation of water meters. Once a final decision has been made the debt servicing costs on the loans will be recovered through the water supply charging regime.
I am on the Hautere water supply – how will I be affected?
The Districtwide Residential Water Meters proposal does not include properties connected to the Hautere/Te Horo water scheme. Therefore customers connected to this scheme will not be affected by water meters. The Hautere / Te Horo water scheme is a restricted rural supply. Customers currently pay for water based on their restricted allocation. Council has a bulk water meter at the treatment source, however individual properties are not individually metered.
I live in an apartment. Will I share my meter with other separate apartment owners?
Council will install one water meter for the apartment block and can invoice either the body corporate or ratepayers directly. Where invoices are sent to the body corporate, they will then split the meter bill amongst the apartment owners in a way they see fit. Alternatively, invoices can be sent directly to ratepayers with the volumetric water use charges being evenly split between all the rating units unless advised otherwise by the body corporate.
My house is on a cross-lease and we have one pipe from the boundary. Who will pay for any new pipes and will we have a meter for each household?
With cross-leased properties, Council’s will:
I don’t always live in my house, so will I have to pay for water when I’m not there?
Your water invoice will be in two parts - one is for the water you use (i.e. the volumetric charge) and the other is the fixed charge covering water supply costs which you pay for whether you live at your property or not.
I live in retirement village. What will change for me?
Resthomes are already paying for water. How they pass this charge on to residents is up to them.
I’m a landlord - who will get water bills, me or my tenant?
Water charges will be issued quarterly to the property owner showing both the fixed charge and the volumetric charge for water use. Just like with rates, water bills will be sent to home owners as they are legally responsible for the water meter charges. How a landlord passes this cost on to tenants is up to them.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, the landlord is responsible for any fixed charge component of a water charge. However, the landlord can legally pass on the charge for water use (the volumetric charge) to a tenant.
The simplest method for a landlord is to on-bill the tenant for the volumetric water charges, according to meter readings taken at the start and end of tenancy or quarterly throughout the year i.e. when invoices are sent (volumetric charges are shown on each invoice). If a tenant doesn’t pay, the costs could be recovered from a bond via an application to the Tenancy Tribunal. A bond is security against any charges owed by a tenant and a water charges debt is no different from any other charge a tenant may be responsible for.
Another option would be for the landlord to make an estimate of what water use might be and include this cost in rent. However if the tenant uses more water than what is estimated, the landlord would not be able to recover the full cost of this amount.
This is a private matter between the tenant and landlord to agree on.
I run a business. How will I be affected?
Up to 2013/14, business units in Kāpiti were charged the standard flat rate (Universal Annual Charge) for water. They were also allocated 350 cubic metres a year (350,000 litres), then charged a unit rate when they went over this amount.
Under the new scheme, businesses will pay the fixed charge and the volumetric charge for water use. As with all ratepayers, there is no allocation of water.
Why are there occupied commercial and business premises within the Kāpiti Coast District that do not currently have water meters?
In conjunction with the introduction of the Water Supply Bylaw 2010, Council also established a three-year Bylaw Enforcement Project. This project was established to identify extraordinary water users, categorise their water use and install meters where required.
The Water Supply Bylaw 2010 states that “all extraordinary users who use a water volume greater than 350 m3 per year shall be assessed and invoiced on a quarterly basis or as required”. The bylaw also goes on to define extraordinary users as:
a) commercial and business
f) lifestyle blocks (peri-urban or small rural residential)
g) fire protection systems other than sprinkler systems installed to comply with NZS 4517
h) out of district (supply within another local authority)
i) domestic – spa or swimming pool in excess of 10m3 capacity
j) temporary supply.
Since the introduction of the Water Supply Bylaw in 2010, in excess of 390 premises have been identified with extraordinary water activities. These extraordinary water users are still paying a standard water supply charge as part of their rates.
Who are the members of CRAG?
The members are Don Hunn (chair); Jean Chamberlain (community interests and low income households from the north of the District); Don Richards (community interests and low income households from the south of the District); Ross Leggett (Chamber of Commerce); Bernard Parker (landlord and tenant interests); Charles Lloyd (Grey Power); Jill Stansfield (Older Person’s Council); Manaahi Baker (Te Ati Awa); Caleb Royal (Ngati Raukawa); and Councillors Tony Lester and Mike Cardiff.
How many options did CRAG consider?
CRAG initially considered seven different charging models that were tested against a range of household sizes and non-residential users.
What options were discarded and why?
Amongst the discarded options were: