WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL ADMITS TO MISLEADING THE PUBLIC ON WATER

Wellington resident Frank Cook has received a letter from Wellington City Council acknowledging the serious errors he identified in council
documents and statements around water use in the area.

Mr Cook, an engineering teacher, sent a 13 page report to Council in February to “draw attention to the grossly misleading statements made by
Council with regard to the subject of water use”.

In its response earlier this month, Wellington City Council admits that some of their statements are “misleading,” “incorrect” and to “errors”
in others.

Key errors include:

The statement listed under key facts in the Council’s consultation document /Planning for the Future – Developing the Long Term
Community Council Plan: “Wellingtonians use twice as much water as Upper Hutt and Auckland and almost three times as much water as Nelson”;

A statement that appeared on the Council website that Wellington residents use 500 litres per person per day (WCC gives the correct figure as 230 litres per person per day);

A statement in the Wellington City Council’s Annual Report 07/08 that the amount of water used daily in the Wellington region would fill Westpac Stadium (WCC says it should have read weekly usage).

The Council also said it did not know the origin of statements about Wellingtonians’ reckless consumption of water being twice that of the national average that appeared in a Dominion Post article in November last year that also featured pro-metering comments by mayor Kerry Prendergast.

In some instances Wellington’s gross water usage (combining domestic, commercial, industrial, and unaccounted for water) has been compared to other cities’ domestic water usage.

“Given the whole pro-metering argument in the region has been made on the grounds that Wellingtonians are excessive water users, these revelations are extremely disturbing,” said Right to Water spokesperson, Maria McMillan.

“The distorted comparisons with other cities have also fuelled the belief that household meters are some sort of magic bullet for water shortages. Meanwhile industrial and commercial water users and losses through leaky pipes have been virtually ignored,” said Ms McMillan.

“Berating the public for wasting water and drumming up support for meters appears to have taken precedence over ensuring the public are given the facts and a truly informed debate can take place,” she said.

Updated 26th March 2009