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Council Keeps Unfair Water Restriction Policy

Media Release
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
23 June 2010

Council Keeps Unfair Water Restriction Policy

Today’s Auckland City Council Finance & Strategy Committee discussed Metrowater’s proposed Statement of Intent for 2010-11. Councillor Cathy Casey, on behalf the City Vision-Labour Councillors moved to stop Metrowater restricting water supply as a means of as a means of persuading residents who have fallen behind in paying their water bills to stump up. Citizens & Ratepayers councillors (Armstrong, Bhatnagar, Goldsmith and Millar) and Independent Councillor Mark Donnelly voted it down.

Metrowater’s current Debt Collections process involves firing a series off five letters over a two-month period to remind customers to pay their bill. After 54 days, a written warning is issued that water will be restricted within 48 hours and on day 56, that restriction takes place.

Councillor Casey said, “The Statement of Intent is the way the Council exerts control of its CCOs. Today is a prime example of how difficult it is to get Metrowater to change the way it deals with the families and businesses that use their water. I believe water restriction should not be used to chase up small debts. It is unfair. Water is a basic human right. Metrowater’s letter-based system should be replaced by telephone contact or even a visit. This would have far more impact than the draconian measure of restricting supply.”

Councillor Northey said, “I have come to the conclusion that the imposition of restrictions on water supply in Auckland should end. It can risk the health of invalids and of sick children. Sometimes engineering difficulties mean that insufficient water reaches families in need. Where the landlord is paying the bill, innocent tenant families may suffer from the landlord’s failure to pay. All in all water restrictions are too often a blunt and unfair instrument that can harm the health of family members.”

ENDS

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