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Changes in water services charges

Changes in water services charges

Future changes in the way North Shore City Council charges for its wastewater, stormwater and water supply aim to make it fairer for all, and protect natural resources.

A wider range of pricing and funding approaches for what are collectively known as water services are now available to council, including a stormwater tariff.

The strategic issue has been flagged in the draft 2004-2014 City Plan, and there will be further consultation in 2005 as ideas are explored and developed.

North Shore City works and environment committee chairperson, Joel Cayford, says new charges for water services will not only be fairer for everyone, but also have positive environmental spin-offs.

"We need to make sure that whatever method we choose does not disadvantage those who conserve water. They should not be subsidising those who use a lot," says Councillor Cayford.

At the moment, a typical North Shore household pays about $800 a year for water services. That is made up of, on average, $258 for water supply, a uniform annual sewerage (wastewater) charge of $396, and about $140 through rates for stormwater.

Water supply alone costs North Shore City $19m a year - which covers buying the water, operating and maintaining the network. Another $5.5m a year is spent on upgrading, replacing and putting new pipes into growth areas.

Options on how to charge for water services in future include tariffs based on property rates, or uniform annual charges. For wastewater, it could be property rates-based, uniform annual charges, or charged on water flow.

Each tariff would affect consumers in different ways. For example, using property rates to pay for water services may disadvantage some, but making everyone pay the same through a uniform annual charge could adversely affect others.

The funding of stormwater is also complex. Impervious surfaces cause run-off and pollution, but charges based on that would mean people with less concrete and greater grassed areas would pay less.

"A concrete tax might sound good, but it could mean property owners paying for the right to flood downstream properties, and that would not be an equitable outcome," Councillor Cayford says.

To find out more, people can view the full draft City Plan on the council's website http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz, or visit an area office or library.

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