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Uniform water charges becoming unsustainable

Uniform water charges becoming unsustainable

Pressures from central Government for improvement in water services across the country is making uniform water charges through rates increasingly unsustainable as a basis for cost recovery, says the President of the New Zealand Water and Wastes Association, Mr Michael Schruer.

In a speech to the Australian Water Association’s annual conference in Melbourne recently he said many of New Zealand’s smaller communities were struggling to maintain their water, wastewater and stormwater assets.

“Some very large bills are making themselves known on rates demands and figure in future projections. In metropolitan areas, similar pressures are contributing to the attractiveness of transforming water services into limited corporate entities on a tax-efficient basis capable of generating a cash flow sufficient to mitigate general rates increases.

“Both outcomes may actually be feeding an appetitite for greater institutional reform than certainly central government, and some parts of local government, have yet conceded.

“At the same time, it seems politically impossible to extend user pays through metering beyond the small number of areas where it already applies.”

Mr Schruer said New Zealand was only now beginning to grapple with the fact that its legal and other frameworks are inadequate to deal with competing, and in a growing number of areas excessive, demands for water on any effective and sustainable basis.

Ends

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