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Drinking water and wastewater systems: Should we share the costs?


Kaipara communities are to be asked how they should pay for their drinking water and wastewater systems as part of the Kaipara District Council’s (KDC) Long Term Planning for the next ten years.

Council says current payment calculations are complex, and the system is inconsistent and inequitable.

General Manager of Sustainable Growth and Investment, Sue Davidson, says the system is historic and needs to change.

“Capital costs are currently paid by specific networks while operational costs are shared across all networks, except for the Te Kopuru wastewater scheme, where all costs are paid by those on the scheme,” says Ms Davidson.

The Council is seeking feedback on two options. The first is to share capital, maintenance, and operating costs equally across all networks and is the Council’s preferred option.

“That has the benefit of spreading costs, so if your system needs work then everyone on Council systems helps pay for it. It means everyone pays the same amount for the same service.”

It also means the significant costs of new storage facilities, or links to existing ones, would be shared across a larger number of people. Everyone would pay a portion of the costs of other networks, and those on other networks would help pay for theirs.

“That would apply to any part of the network when it was their turn. For example, it would apply to the new pipe we are proposing for the Dargaville system, or to any extension that may be required to the Mangawhai wastewater system in the future, depending on what was needed.”

“You could think of it like an insurance system, where you pay now knowing there is support available when it’s your turn.”

Ms Davidson also points out that some schemes are benefitting from government Three Waters programme subsidies, which would be shared if rates were equalised.

The alternative option is to ringfence each system so those who benefit from it paid for any development, maintenance, and operations.

This option leaves networks more exposed if the Council has to carry out unplanned maintenance on their system and will result in greater cost fluctuations.

Older schemes usually have higher maintenance costs, so as systems get older people may end up paying more.

Those on small systems, such as the Glinks Gully (Te Kopuru) wastewater system, would bear a greater burden of maintenance costs as there are fewer people to share them with.

The Council will be asking for your views when they consult on Towards a Better Kaipara, their Long Term Plan 2021-2031, from 1 March to 1 April.

The consultation document will be available on kaipara.govt.nz/ltp and Elected Members will be available online or at a local market near you to discuss their proposals.

The Council encourages people to get involved if they care about their water and wastewater rates.

Members of the public are invited to meet with Elected Members to discuss their proposed plan on:

Thursday March 4, 7-8pm 

Tuesday March 9, 7-8pm 

Saturday March 13, 9am-1pm 

Thursday March 18, 5.30pm-7.30pm 

Saturday March 20, 8.30am-1pm 

Friday March 26, 4-7pm Dargaville 

Online facebook.com/KaiparaDistrictCouncil

Online facebook.com/KaiparaDistrictCouncil

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“That has the benefit of spreading costs, so if your system needs work then everyone on Council systems helps pay for it.”

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