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Fixed charge for wastewater to remain

29 May 2008

Fixed charge for wastewater to remain for Manukau residents

Manukau City Council last night decided Manukau residents will continue to pay a fixed wastewater charge, which will increase over four years, while community groups and business customers should pay a mix of a fixed charge and a price per cubic metre of water used.

A subsidy of residential customers by businesses and community groups will be phased out over four years and is a factor in the residential price rise.

Manukau Mayor Len Brown says Manukau is a business-friendly city.

"Many of our businesses are small businesses, employing tens of thousands of people. We want to do everything we can to assist their ongoing viability," Mr Brown says.

Charges for 'trade-waste' customers (those commercial customers who pay Watercare Services Limited directly for its bulk infrastructure network and treatment of trade waste) will be kept at $1.25 m3 to cover the cost of the Manukau Water Limited network, which transports wastewater for those businesses, to the Watercare network.

The council has also decided that charges for Beachlands and Maraetai should increase to $500 per year to help cover the operating costs of the Beachlands/Maraetai treatment plant. The difference between this increased charge and the metropolitan residential charge will be phased in over four years.

"On balance, the decision to retain the residential fixed charge is the fairest option.

"Deciding the wastewater charging structure was extremely difficult for the council, which had to weigh up the impacts on different groups of customers and also keep in mind the environmental issue of water conservation," Mr Brown says.

"In opting to continue with a fixed charge for all household customers, we have prevented an unreasonable burden falling on large families, which they would have faced had we gone for a volumetric charging regime.

"Last year the council decided water and wastewater charges could be included in the rates rebate calculation for those on low or fixed incomes and we encourage people to apply for this rebate.

The council also had to keep in mind that most of Manukau Water's costs for taking away wastewater are fixed regardless of the volume going through the system.

"We need to bear in mind too, that much of the price rise is being driven by price increases for bulk supply by Watercare. I am still working to get a more reasonable increase from Watercare, but we realise the need for infrastructural investment," Mr Brown says.

In addition, the council resolved that all water and wastewater used by organisations and bodies under central government control, including schools, should be charged at the same rate as business users.

At the council's request, Manukau Water Limited carried out a review of the wastewater charges last year. The council subsequently decided to consult with the public as part of its 2008/09 Draft Annual Plan consultation process.

* Manukau Water Limited does not seek to return a profit to the council but has to recoup its costs.
**The table below shows the charges that will apply.

$378 + $1.76/m3
$328 + $2.07/m3
$278 + $2.38/m3
$215 + $2.60/m3
$600 + $2.80/m3
$ 476 + $2.77/m3
$352 + $2.73/m3
$215 + $2.60/m3


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