Wrong, wrong and wrong. But happy to explain why.
The man who manages Tauranga city’s domestic water supply has responded to some myths and misunderstandings about water meters, water infrastructure and the need to conserve a precious and finite resource - our fresh drinking water.
It was prompted by Tauranga City Council, which last week issued a gentle advisory to residents to think about saving water as the city headed into a hot and dry weekend. “The supply is under pressure with high demand and is being monitored closely,” they said. “If water use continues to increase, a sprinkler ban is likely.”
Some residents were a bit miffed. “Miss something? Water meters were sold to us as the be all and end all of summer water shortages,” posted The Caveman on SunLive. Both miffed and defiant. “We now pay per litre! And as such I will use as much as I like especially when it comes to my vegie garden.”
Another commenter, Old Trucker, said: “Now they’re telling us to save water, why have we got meters then?”, and Centurion also grumbled: “We were conned into believing meters would solve all our woes. What happened to that theory? Come on TCC.”
The purpose of water meters is to measure usage accurately so that it can be charged fairly and relative to use.
It also provides people with the right information to manage water use. The city’s water manager, Steve Burton, says people have adopted positive water use behaviours which, on a per capita basis, makes Tauranga one of the most water-efficient cities in New Zealand.
Water metering resulted in an immediate reduction of 25 per cent after being implemented, which meant the city didn’t require seasonal water restrictions for 17 years.
But back on SunLive’s comments section, council priorities were questioned. “About time the council started to spend rates on necessary infrastructure (water and reservoirs) and forgot about a museum.” He refers to the $70,000 lifeline offered the museum proposal. The funds will enable a broader and more thorough discussion on whether the city needs a museum rather than the emotional “where and how much?” debate to date.
But SunLive commenter Caveman would rather water his lettuces than the city have a cultural institution such as a museum.
Groutby posted: “As we start to move into a very predictable summer, we should have planned suitable infrastructure for an equally predictable high use of water. I suggest we should reasonably expect to get it, but no. We are spending infrastructure money investigating ways to get a museum again after the rate paying public had put it to bed.”
The city’s water infrastructure has grown steadily as the population has increased.
Introducing water metering in 1999 has meant that current annual water usage has only just caught up to the levels experienced before then, providing an additional 37,000 residents with water in the intervening years.
Steve Burton’s business is water, not museums. He says over the past 20 years, TCC has been investing in the expansion of the distribution network, additional water reservoirs and the renewal of aging infrastructure as well as the new Waiari Water Supply Scheme.
This scheme is under construction and includes a new treatment plant which will be in service by the end of 2021. “This particular project is a significant investment in water supply for Tauranga into the future,” says Steve.
TCC is also building additional capacity to boost supply from 2021. “However, a key consideration of the council’s future planning is the long-term sustainability of Tauranga’s available water resources,” says Steve.
“So we need to view water as a limited resource whether there are restrictions in place or not. It is positive to see so many people interested in sustainability and considering what is best for our environment.”
And there are simple ways we can contribute to the efficient use of water – like avoiding sprinklers and watering gardens during cooler times of the day. He also recommends TCC’s free waterline services.
Call the council on: 07 577 7000 and it will send someone to visit your property and offer advice on water efficiency and check for leaks.
“There is enough to go around if we all use water wisely,” Steve reassures. “Our infrastructure investment is on track and alongside more efficient water use, Tauranga’s water supply can be managed well.”