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.
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. Water charges also take into account the cost of having water for things like firefighting available.
In other places with water meters, there is a set amount that people can use before they get charged extra – will I be told when I pass that mark?
Yes. But remember that charging using meters will not start until the 2021-22 financial year (July 2021).
When meters are installed, you’re likely to receive at least four notices a year giving you an indication of your water use – and likely payment. And you can check as often as you like.
The details around the water charges will be determined through consultation in our Annual Plan, beginning in April 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 and what the set base allowance is.
If I have shared supply, what do I do?
Council will communicate with property owners asking whether they would like to share a water meter, or they would rather have separate water meters to their unit. If everyone chooses to share a water meter, there will be no cost for additional work and each property owner agrees to pay a share of the water charge.
If property owners choose to have separate meters, there may be a cost to separate water lines.
How come all houses don’t have separate water supplies?
That is the current requirement. In the past, going back some years, some developers preferred a shared supply because it was cheaper.
All new homes are now required to have separate supplies.
I am on a shared supply and the person/people I share it with uses much more water – why should I share the cost of the water?
Everyone who shares the meter pays an equal share of bill, unless they come to alternative arrangement. If you are keen to separate the pipes this work will be on private property. The Council can provide information on what is required but cannot carry out or pay for the work.
Why do I have to pay for splitting the water supply – the council allowed the builder to do it in the first place, surely you should pay?
The council owns and is responsible for the pipe network from the water treatment plant to your property boundary. Property owners are responsible for their private pipes within their property. If one owner opts for a separate meter, other owners on the cross-leased property might decide to do the same.
The owners should get quotes from plumbers for changing the shared private network. It could be expensive (e.g. digging out a driveway to connect a property to the footpath, where the new water meters will go). The property owners cover the cost of the new pipe that connects the meter to each home. Owner will need to ensure the private network can be separated and get a plumber to do this work. The property owner is then responsible for maintaining the pipe.
If several property owners want to install separate meters at the same time, they are responsible for the cost. Owners need to agree how to share the cost if the existing meter stays connected to one of the dwellings. The Council is responsible for the toby box and the new water meter.
I am in a flat, connected to a number of other flats, which has a shared supply, with pipes under the concrete floor. The landlord wants to simply split the water bill based on the meter – we use hardly any water and that’s not fair – how do we resolve this?
That is a matter for tenants and landlords.
I own my house and share water supply with another person who is also owns their property. We don’t want to share the water meter/can’t agree – what do we do?
As above, if property owners want to separate the pipes this work will be on private property. The Council can provide information on what is required but cannot carry out or pay for the work.