On January 12, level 2 water restrictions were introduced in Hastings to conserve water. A week later Napier had to go further and introduced restriction level 3.
Interestingly, some private and public water users are not subject to the restriction because they have their own bores. Is their water not extracted from the same aquifer where the public water supply is taken from?
The next question is about monitoring the restriction.
Water has leaked on a private property in Hastings, Frederick St.
This happened after a building was demolished several months ago. Nobody cares.
Why, because homeowners and small businesses don't pay for the consumption of water.
Electricity and water is supplied to each house. Nobody complains that we pay for the power units which we use.
And for water, which is more important for life on earth then electricity, we pay only a line charge.
Looking a bit closer into our water supply, it is a serious issue for Hawke's Bay.
It has been reported that each Hastings resident used an average of 420 litres per day, in 2017, and in Napier, an average of 650 litres per day.
The New Zealand average figure is about 250 litres per person per day.
European communities (including Mediterranean countries, the UK and Germany) have reduced their consumption over the last 10 years from about 200 litres to 140 to 120 litres per person and day. There are several reasons:
1. Each water user pays for the used amount.
2. The price per cubic metre increased significantly over the years.
3. The industry developed more water-saving appliances like washing machines and dishwashers
How much do we pay per cubic metre?
Good question, because we pay one fixed amount at the moment, $470 per year.
The back of our rates invoice explains the water rate is "to fund the supply of water to properties, which receive or [are] capable of receiving the service".
It is not quite clear if we pay for this important liquid or only for its infrastructure.
And if you have two people or five to six people living in one house with or without a private pool, each household pays the same - $ 470 per year.
A couple on a small pension pays the same amount as a family of four with two income earners.
Your councils have to do what responsible councils around the world do, meter the consumption of each house and charge for the amount which is used.
Metering means monitoring not only the consumption, it will also identify leakages.
Currently Hastings is losing an unidentified 15 to 20 per cent of its water on the way between the bores and the users.
Nobody knows how much water is lost in Hastings on private properties.
Water meters will solve the problem. The Hastings District Council has been speaking for quite some time about smart meter technology, which gives house owners the opportunity to follow their consumption via their mobile phone. It is now time for the councils to develop a plan with costs and timeframe for the installation .
Walter Breustedt is director of ECO Management Group Ltd. Havelock North. Before Walter came to New Zealand he worked as an independent adviser for the German Government.