A local group, the Water Warriors, is taking its fight for fair water charges up a notch after receiving “the brush off” from Watercare.
The group was set up earlier in the year by Stanmore Bay resident Sheryl Poynter (HM July 1) to get a fair deal for people on rainwater tank supply.
They feel that people with unmetered tanks pay too much in wastewater charges.
Since 2013, Watercare has offered households on tank water the option of paying to install a meter and be charged by volume, with a smaller fixed charge; or pay a fixed charge with no volumetric component.
The annual fixed wastewater charge is calculated on an estimated use of 600 litres per day. Watercare says this is based on “minimum peak domestic water demand of 250 litres per person, per day and Auckland’s average number of people per household, which is 3.1.”
Sheryl says this is unfair and doesn’t recognise the water conservation efforts of those on unmetered tanks, and small households.
“My family uses nothing like 600 litres per day,” she says. “This system also means that my family of four, for example, pays the same as a neighbour who lives on her own and works all day.”
Water Warriors suggested to Watercare that they consider seasonal rates (discounted over summer); rates based on the number of bedrooms in a house; and subsidised meter installations.
“We only need a meter so that Watercare can meet their obligations as a utility company,” Sheryl says.
“So why should we have to pay hundreds of dollars to install one? Watercare has a monopoly that they are taking advantage of. If there were other companies in the marketplace, Watercare soon wouldn’t be in business.”
She says their initial approach to Watercare was rebuffed.
“Basically we were told ‘get metered if you have a concern’,” she says.
Undeterred, the seven-strong group is looking to grow its numbers and is seeking a face-to- face meeting with Watercare.
Sheryl says if that is not satisfactory, they plan to take a group claim to the Small Claims court or Disputes Tribunal.
She says the way that Watercare is treating this group of customers is unacceptable.
To join the group, or find out more: email email@example.com