Cr Jackie Elliott’s Column

ElliottWater meters cause Flood of Concern

By District Cr Jackie Elliott

I have been expecting a flood in Kapiti for the last two years and last weekend it started when I opened my inbox.– a flood of emails from worried residents.

Families, elderly residents, and couples on fixed incomes worried as the reality of water meters hits home and threatens their household budgets.

Some thought we Councillors were deciding on water meters this week. Not the case. Sadly the decision on water supply options was forced onto my colleagues and I, by the mayor and KCDC staff last year after we’d being in office for only six weeks.

Decision without discussion

We had to make this decision without any opportunity for a round-the-table discussion and  without an updated costings report I had requested.

And it was without any clarification on why the public were not allowed a special consultation or a referendum on water meters under the significance policy, when it triggered the significance policy on every point.

I still await a report on the costings. Why is this so important?

During water meter installations a considerable amount of leaks were found on private land. Even more were found on the public pipes across the district, so many in fact that Otaki, the  biggest User/loser of reticulated water, has already had a reduction that brings it back in line with the rest of the district.

This was a fantastic accomplishment, without water meters being turned on, and without a single bill being delivered.

No need for meters

There is less tangible reason today, in February 2015, than ever for water meters in Kapiti.

But here lies the problem for residents: KCDC’s Charging Regime Advisory Group (CRAG) report of two years ago suggests charges of $1.01 per cubic metre, and no mention of the fixed daily charge.

It also gives Council the right to annually increase the charges according to the COST of supplying you with water. Add building the river recharge with groundwater scheme and a refurbishment of the Waikanae Treatment Plant, approximately  $30 million of debt, and you will pay…how much?

With this fixed cost of supplying water (despite fewer cubic metres of water being used already), with two infrastructure projects started, and with a fixed number of water meters, the cost to Kapiti households and businesses will be considerable higher than estimated two years ago.

Just how much will people pay?

‘How much will people pay? Is this not the very first piece of information, your elected representatives were entitled to from staff?’

This is the reason I asked for an updated estimate. This is the only way we, your elected representatives can gauge the financial impact on your household and make a decision with your well-being as a top priority.

I will now ask for the report by way of an official Information Act request. It’s shocking that an elected Councillor has to do this.

As for staff,s decision not to trigger the Significance Policy, in accordance with procedures, this formal enquiry will now go to the office of the Auditor General to decide whether or not Kapiti residents were entitled to more consultation.