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Wellington City voters back direct water charges

Wellington City voters back direct water charges, Hutt in two minds and Porirua opposed

Wellington City residents solidly support paying directly for the water they use and discharge.

Wellington City Council is backing the idea of direct charging, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council at the weekend said Wellingtonians used about 400 litres of water per person a day, compared with Aucklanders' 300 litres. The region's water system can supply 368,000 people at an acceptable level in dry summers. The population is now 379,000.

A new poll, commissioned co-incidentally on the issue by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, finds 56% of people in Wellington City believe each house should pay directly for the amount of water used and discharged.

Some 31% in Wellington City oppose the policy idea, 13% are neutral and 9% don't know.

In Hutt City 37% support, 39% oppose, 21% are neutral and 18% don't know.

In Porirua City there is clear opposition: 45% oppose, 38% support, 1% are neutral and 3% don't know.

The Business Council asked the question between November 28 and November 7 in a nationwide poll commissioned to measure the public's view of policy proposals contained in a major new study on how to improve the performance of New Zealand's homes. The study included water efficiency.

The ShapeNZ poll covered 3526 people nationwide, and 281 in the Wellington region.

In Auckland City, which already has water metering and direct charging, residents back the practice 77% to 18%, while 10% are neutral and 2% don't know.

The poll has a margin of error of 1.7% on the national sample.

Sub-sample results need to be treated with caution and are indicative only.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says houses which pay only for the amount of water they use and discharge, rather than through rates, are rewarded for conserving water and for any investments they make in water efficient appliances and in collecting and using rainwater. Without metering and direct charging for actual use, there was little visible reward for people to make much-needed changes to behaviour and investments in their homes. The bills for building extra dams and water services continued to be sent to every ratepayer.

The report, resulting from the Business Council's two-year long $300,000 research project looking at how to improve the performance of New Zealand homes, is being released this Sunday.

The report will discuss major economic, health and other losses resulting from the country's poorly performing housing stock - and how to improve it.

The research recommends policies to achieve major changes which need to be delivered by home occupiers, the building industry, and Central and Local Government to ensure the country has warmer, more comfortable, healthier and energy and water efficient homes. More than a million of the country's 1.6 million homes are inadequately insulated.


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