The Council's Strategy and Policy Committee has unanimously agreed to consult the public, starting in January, on a new water bylaw that will regulate a wide range of activities that relate to the provision of water for the public.
The proposed new bylaw would replace the current bylaw and the Wellington Water Charter. The current system has proven to be not as effective and compatible with the Council's water conservation and efficiency strategies as it could be. A review of the Council's current regime found that water management is operating under a mixture of legislation and voluntary compliance. In some cases it was impeding officers from addressing issues such as leaks, wastage and restrictions.
The new bylaw would effectively allow the Council to manage the establishment of new water connections, administer water policies, install water meters for commercial customers and enforce demand management tools such as restrictions on usage and garden sprinkler operating hours.
The new bylaw would, in special circumstances - such as known unrepaired leaks, an investigation into excessive usage or blatant water wasting - allow the Council to install a water meter to measure usage and, if necessary, charge for the water wasted or consumed.
The Council's Three Waters and Waste Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ngaire Best, says the Council has no plans to introduce universal water meters and stressed that the new bylaw could ultimately save ratepayers money.
"I want to make it clear that we have no intention of introducing domestic universal meters," says Cr Best.
"What we do want to do, however, is give Council officers the tools to deal with flagrant water wasters.
"This could ultimately save ratepayers money. The better we can manage our water supply the less likelihood there is of having to borrow millions of dollars to build new lakes or dams.
"Installing a water meter to measure waste, and charging the person if they don't address the problem, is a last resort. We believe conservation is the best option, particularly in the current economic climate, as it allows us to defer the cost of building a new bulk storage facility."