Councillors Determined to Live Within Water Limits

15 October 2009

Wellington City Councillors agreed at today's Strategy and Policy Committee meeting to encourage water saving initiatives for the city in order to delay, permanently if possible, the introduction of domestic water meters or construction of a dam.

Wellington City Council will carry out a public consultation next year on a draft water conservation plan which is currently being developed.

The Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says the main aim of this draft water conservation plan is to find out more about how Wellingtonians feel about managing water usage and conservation while recognising continuing population growth.

"The idea of having metered charges for such an essential resource has alarmed some Wellington residents - particularly those on low incomes.

"There have also been concerns at the Council about the cost to ratepayers of both installing and maintaining meters," she says.

Councillors were unanimous that meters are not part of the next phase of water conservation.

The draft conservation plan will outline ways to save water, working together with other councils in the region, including and Greater Wellington Regional Council. It will also make it clear to residents that measures such as meters and dams are potentially part of the more distant future if the city's total water consumption is not stabilised.

It was also agreed by Councillors today to include and explain cost benefits of both dams and water meters to Wellington residents - to give the public all the information known to the Council about future consequences if water demand exceeds supply.

The plan will address the water consumption of residents, businesses and other Wellington-based organisations.

Councillor Wade-Brown says "research shows most people think we have plenty of water at the moment. And it's easy to see where they're coming from, considering this week's rainfall.

"However, due to Wellington's storage infrastructure, the provision of water for the city's needs is much more complex than that. While leaks are being detected and repaired, reducing our level of 'unaccounted for water' will not solve the issue.

"I have faith that Wellingtonians can rise to the challenge of stabilising our total water usage and living within our limits," says Cr Wade-Brown.

The public consultation is due to start in the middle of 2010. Meanwhile, the City Council will continue to support and promote Greater Wellington Regional Council's programme of spring mulch and summer water conservation tips, as well as current water efficiency measures practised by the Council.