Edward Rooney is the Regional News Editor at NZME. News Service.

Eye-watering costs to get connected

Some water connection costs in Auckland have risen dramatically.

David Shannon on the site of his new house-build in Mellons Bay. He is concerned about the cost of water meter installation. Photo / Michael Craig
David Shannon on the site of his new house-build in Mellons Bay. He is concerned about the cost of water meter installation. Photo / Michael Craig

A fee for tapping into the waterworks in parts of Auckland has gone up by 900 per cent in the past two years - from less than $850 to almost $8000.

The careering costs are part of the roster of charges rolled out by the super-city council and its agencies.

Even further rises are proposed in the Auckland Council's draft annual plan being prepared for rubber-stamping.

David Shannon was stunned when he was billed $6900 to have his new house connected to the town water supply.

The retired remuneration consultant told the Herald on Sunday his new house in Howick would be an ordinary four-bedroom family home.

"The new 'super-city' was supposed to make services more efficient but it seems what it has really become efficient at is removing money from our pockets, especially regarding housing costs.

"This new charge is entirely separate from any 'development costs' the land developer had to pay.

"This is just a new, added cost to individual homeowners when they want a new service connection when building a new house."

Shannon insisted he was happy to pay his fair share but the $6900 tab seemed a bit steep.

"I don't mind paying some extra as a contribution to the overall growth costs - but $6900?"

Watercare communications manager Mark Champion said the charge replaced the former councils' "growth" charges in 2011.

"Like the councils' growth charges, Watercare's infrastructure growth charge is a fee applied to all new developments connecting to Watercare's networks, or to existing non-residential customers that increase demand for water and wastewater services."

Champion said demand was growing but previous growth charges in some areas were too low, recovering less than half the total growth capital costs.

"Also, Aucklanders had been paying different growth charges depending on the location of their property, so there was also an issue of fairness to be addressed."

Champion said some property owners benefited from the new charge.

"For North Shore and Rodney property owners and some in Waitakere, Watercare's new infrastructure growth charge is significantly less than the previous growth charge.

"For property owners in central Auckland, Manukau and other parts of Waitakere, the charge increased."

He said standardising the charge was an important step towards paying for Auckland's needs.

Fairer rates campaigner David Thornton said one troubling change to the general charge was the funds collected no longer had to be spent in the vicinity.

"The cost is set annually and payments received do not have to be spent in the area from which they are collected - it just goes into the big pot."

Meanwhile, Shannon described the Watercare explanation for the charges as "weasel words".

"They talk a lot about amalgamating to provide more fairness.

"What it means is, they find out who is paying the highest and they raise everyone else up to that level."

- Herald on Sunday

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