Whangaparāoa offered cheaper water connections

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The lower cost fee for connecting to the public water network was announced last month.

At this stage it is for Whangaparaoa residents only and is a trial.

Local councillors successfully lobbied Watercare for the lower cost option to give people on tank water another way of refilling their tanks – via a hose from a tap at the gate.

The low flow ‘town to tank’ connection costs $2449.50 and is available to households connected to the wastewater network, close to the public water supply and with rain tanks that hold at least 20,000 litres.

People will be billed based on meter readings. The cost of the meter, $1553.65, makes up most of the $2449.50 charge.

Fixed and volumetric charges also apply. The volumetric charge means it will cost $34.50 for 10,000 litres. On top is a fixed charge of $141.45 per annum, paid in monthly instalments, as well as the initial $2449.50 outlay.

Cr Wayne Walker is questioning Watercare about the fixed and volumetric charges.

“Why is there a fixed charge for a property on tank water not using the facility for most of the year, and I also question the higher volumetric charge ($3.45 per 1000 litres, as opposed to $1.59 for normal town supply) given that the pipework already passes the property, there is no additional cost for supplying the water and there is a restricted amount of draw-off; which reduces the spot demand on supply from the network.”

There is also concern among water tank operators about Watercare’s cheaper connection offer, which may affect their business.

Healthy Water Tanks owner Garry Stephenson says the sector feels disregarded by Watercare when it comes to the town to tank offer.

“Some water carriers will lose business more than others. It will be interesting to see what the take-up rate is for Whangaparaoa,” he says.

He points out that the low flow, of 2-8 litres per minute, means that it could take three days to top up a tank with 10,000 litres of water.

“At that rate, a household of four or five people will use up the water faster than the tank fills,” Garry says.

Water tank operators charged more

At the same time, Watercare is opening three new filling stations, including one in Orewa, and more than doubling what it charges water tank operators. The new prices come into effect on March 1.

Watercare’s chief customer officer Amanda Singleton says filling station costs have been heavily subsidised, so the increase is about recovering the true cost of the service.

Garry says the cost of filling his 12,500 litre tanker will go from around $20 to $56 and this increase will have to be passed onto customers. Currently his business charges Coast customers $172.50 per 12,500 load of water.

“My costs, which include running and servicing the vehicles, road user charges and paying drivers, mean I’m not in a position to absorb that increase,” Garry says. “I will need to pass on 80-90 percent of it.”

Info: www.watercare.co.nz and search for ‘Town to tank’.

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