Senior Wellington journalist Georgina Campbell's fortnightly column looks closely at issues in the capital.
The idea of introducing water meters in Wellington is a "die in a ditch" matter for one Green Party city councillor, but the region must consider them if it wants to take a looming water shortage seriously.
Demand for water could outstrip supply in the region by as early as 2026, with the population growth rate having exceeded earlier forecasts.
The average household water use in the Wellington Metropolitan Region is more than 200 litres per person per day.
That is significantly higher than other major cities such as Auckland, at about 160 litres per person, and Melbourne, about 150 litres per person.
But arguably, even worse than leaving the tap on while you're brushing your teeth, is that up to 31 per cent of treated and supplied water is being lost through leaks in Wellington's network.
Wellington Water is currently putting together a detailed business case on water meters, which is expected to include more details on volumetric charging.
It is an inherently divisive subject because of privatisation fears and the issue of equity.
Meters will also be expensive to install, but so is building an alternative new water source at an estimated cost of $250 million.
Wellington Water manages water assets for the Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington City councils, South Wairarapa District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
There are already strong opinions on meters being aired around Wellington City Council's table.
Councillor Iona Pannett, who ran on the Green Party ticket, acknowledges the environmental benefits of meters, but she warns they are a "route to privatisation".
"I will die in a ditch on this one."
That statement shouldn't be underestimated.
You only have to look at the state of play over the Central Library building to understand how vehemently opposed left-leaning councillors are to such privatisation.
Labour councillor Fleur Fitzsimons notes Wellington Water can't even keep up with fixing the known breaks in the network now, let alone embarking on a massive capital programme of installing water meters.
She says Wellington Water should start dealing with the leaks already piled up on its plate.
But water meters wouldn't only help to detect more leaks, they would also potentially help to prioritise the work to fix them based on size.
Some of the biggest leaks are hiding unseen beneath the ground.
For example, last year Wellington Water discovered a massive leak the equivalent size of 25,000 litres a day in Upper Hutt after installing small area monitors also called flow meters.
Fitzsimons also says she can't support a business case that only tells Wellington Water's side of the story without proper analysis of impacts on the region's most vulnerable people.
But there could be ways around any negative outcomes like making a certain volume of water free to those on income-related benefits or with medical conditions which require a significant increase in water use.
An economic case for water metering provided to the Wellington Water Committee late last year also noted people from lower socio-economic backgrounds may not have the access to smart devices needed to view data from smart meters.
It might surprise some that right-leaning councillor Nicola Young keeps a bucket in her shower to catch excess water, which she then uses for her garden.
Young is conscious about water use after living in Britain, where she always had meters, and having subsequently installed one in her home when she arrived back in New Zealand.
"It's about responsible use of an expensive asset", she says.
Meanwhile, Audit New Zealand has found significant issues with Wellington Water's non-financial performance measures.
An audit opinion said the company was unable to accurately report a reliable water loss percentage to each shareholder council due to the limited number of water meters across the network.
None of these issues should single-handedly rule water meters in or out.
It is the council's job to consider social impacts decisions have on their constituents, but mitigating any negative effects should be explored before chucking out the proposal altogether.
As mayor Andy Foster puts it, Wellington is not the first nor will it be the last to undertake the challenging discussion of water meters with its community.
The point is that the conversation needs to be allowed to happen.