A Horowhenua man faces a hefty bill after being told he'll have to pay to fix a pipe supplying water to his property — around half a kilometre outside his boundary.
Shibin Zhang has had no water at his Arapaepae Rd house for around two months as he struggles to come to terms with almost $3000 needed to fix the leaking pipe.
A water meter for his property means he has to keep the water toby turned off in the meantime as the leak was incurring large costs on his water rates.
The Horowhenua District Council says Zhang's property was far from an existing water main when it was originally connected by a previous owner. The pipe was installed and remained the property owner's responsibility.
Even though the pipe ran about 500m to the property boundary across public land, including under a busy road, the council said any issues with the pipe were on the property owner.
When the toby was turned on, water leaked across the road surface. There were also patchy sections in the asphalt above where the pipe was buried.
Zhang was concerned heavy traffic, including trucks, which regularly travel on the busy 100km/h section of road, may have damaged the pipe below.
The council said in a statement it was an "exceptional case" where it had originally "assisted" by installing a lateral pipe from the water main leading to the meter and toby.
Because the original owner had installed the pipe, it was their property and not council's, it said.
"[The] council is responsible for the lateral from the main up to and including the toby and no further," the statement said.
"[The] council does appreciate the predicament that the new property owner finds himself in, but the property owner remains responsible for the repair on his pipework after the toby.
"The other alternative the property owner has would be to discontinue his water
connection and to install rainwater tanks at his property."
Zhang said it would be next to impossible for him to monitor the condition of the pipe in an ongoing manner, mainly due to its location below the road. He had not been told about the responsibility when carrying out due diligence to purchase his property, he said.
Rainwater tanks would be likely to cost more than the repair bill for the pipe.
In most Horowhenua water connections, a toby was placed on the berm, with a pipe leading directly into the property a few metres away.
The council was responsible for the lateral from the main up to, and including, the toby. Anything inside the boundary was the owner's responsibility.
The issue followed a flurry of development in the district, along with Long Term Plan discussions on infrastructure projects and spending.
The council was not immediately able to comment on the large distance between a water main and a property which would have been given building and resource consents when it was built, and the disclosure of information about responsibility for the pipe.
Zhang said he was upset about the situation and had not been provided with any official documentation to show the pipe was his responsibility, and that it hadn't been disclosed when he purchased the property, which was a regular residential house, not a business.
A page on the council website said when a leak was at a toby and the road was not privately owned, the council would undertake the repairs.
A quote for the repair from Tatana Contracting Ltd included $1000 for traffic management.