Masterton District Council (MDC) is planning to start installing around 9,000 water meters in Masterton residential properties in February, but meters will not be used to charge for water services until the 2021-22 financial year. The charging structure for water using the meters will be part of public consultation on next year’s annual plan, beginning in March.
Most water meters will be installed where water supplies for individual properties leave the council water main – under the blue panels on roadsides and footpaths. Preparatory work in recent years means the meters can be installed quickly next to the tap used to control the supply from the main (known as a toby).
Water will be turned off for a short time while meters are installed, and residents will receive a leaflet several days before the work explaining the process. They will also receive a confirmation that a meter has been installed. A total of 8660 meters will be installed, with just over 75 per cent of households (6,700) having a separate water supply. Initial installation of these meters is expected to take around six months. Records suggest there are just over 1,600 properties receiving water from a shared supply. In these cases, the council will contact owners to discuss options for metering.
A total of $5.2 million is being invested in water meter installation. MDC’s Manager Assets and Operations David Hopman said water meters would be a valuable tool in water management and conservation.
“We want to be sure we are making the best possible use of our water.
“Water is a precious resource, and we need to manage how we use it — but we can’t manage what we can’t measure,” he said.
Meters are expected to reduce consumption, help identify leaks, and give water users better information about their water use. Water meters were first raised for discussion as part of the 2015 Long Term Plan process. In 2018, as part of the Long Term Plan consultation process, Masterton District Council asked the community’s view on installing water meters on all residential properties that are connected to the urban water supply – 56 per cent of respondents supported installing water meters. It is estimated installing water meters could, over the long term, reduce water loss by up to 30 per cent, and reduce demand by 20 per cent.
Why is the council installing water meters?
We want to know what happens to the water we take from the Waingawa River for treatment. Water is a precious resource, and the health of our river is very important. We want to manage how we use that water, but we can’t manage what we can’t measure.
Do I have to have a water meter?
Yes, the meters are being placed on Council-owned infrastructure to help manage Masterton’s water consumption.
Where will meters be installed?
The first meters will be installed at the point where supplies branch off from the water mains. These can be identified by blue covers, with taps underneath to turn off supplies to particular addresses. These are often called tobys. The meters will be installed next to the taps.
Will each individual address get its own meter?
The first part of the meter installation process will involve installing meters at the roadside connection point (the tobys). About 75 per cent of properties in Masterton have individual supplies and will receive an individual meter.
How can I tell if I am on a shared supply?
If you can turn the tap off at the street and more than one house is affected, then the supply is shared. This may be the case for flats or cross leases.
What happens if I am on a shared supply?
When there is shared supply, the council needs to talk to owners about where meters are installed because they are likely to be on private property. If houseowners can turn off the water supply to their properties without affecting other properties, it should be straightforward to install a meter at no charge to the property owner.
If it appears there is only one place to turn off water for several properties, council staff will visit to check the water supply. It may be that tobys have been covered by soil or gardens, or some new pipework may be required to enable a meter to be installed for reach property. In rare cases it may not be possible to install a separate meter for each property without a significant change to pipework, but we believe this will be unusual.
If significant work on private property is required, there may be a cost to the property owners, and they may prefer to share a meter. But charges would be structured in such a way that they will not be paying for their neighbours’ water use.
How will I know when my meter is being installed?
Our contractors will drop a information sheet in your letter box a few days before the meter is installed. You’ll also be advised when the meter is installed.
How long will installation take?
Installation will generally take less than an hour, but there will inevitably be variations to this. Your water will be off during this work.
Once it is installed, can I check that the meter is working?
Yes, we encourage you to take advantage of the water meters. All you need to do is open the lid on the blue box on the street, and flip open the lid on the top of the meter. You’ll see a small screen with a row of numbers, like the odometer in your car. The number on the extreme right-hand side represents one litre.
What do I do if the meter is moving but no taps are on?
There could a number of reasons for this; it’s possible you may be on a shared supply or you may have a leak. But, he first thing to do is give the Council a call so we can make sure the meter is working properly.
Will I be charged for my meter?
No. The cost of the meter is being managed by the Council.
Water is free – why are you charging for it all?
Water charges are essentially designed to cover the cost of getting safe, drinking water to you. That includes the cost of treating water and maintaining pipes and other infrastructure.
When will I be charged for water using my meter?
Not until July 2021. Before then, we’ll be asking the community for their views on how charging will work.
In other places with water meters, there is a set amount that people can use before they get charged extra – will that be the case in Masterton?
The details around the water charges will be determined through consultation in the second half of 2020 and charging using meters will not begin until the second half of 2021. If you have a specific interest in this sign up to receive updates. We encourage you to share your thoughts on how the fees are determined.