Water conservation is essential, says Stratford mayor Neil Volzke, and for this reason he is in favour of the introduction of water meters in the town.
"The discussion is about water conservation and how you pay for the water that comes out of your tap."
He hopes submissions on the district council's draft long term plan, out for consultation currently, will help "robust conversation" on the subject.
Volzke says on average the town water treatment plant processes 3000 cubic metres per day. There is strong evidence from places where metering has been introduced that overall water use will reduce by up to 25 per cent. This is the key driver for the recommendation to install meters.
When it comes to water conservation, water metering is the "fairest and most effective way" to encourage people to conserve water, he says, which is why the draft LTP contains a proposal to install water meters over the next two years, and to start charging for water usage in year three of the LTP.
"Meters also provide the opportunity to change the way people pay for the water they use. Right now, water is paid as a targeted rate applicable per property regardless of how much you use. Every household pays the same amount, which doesn't incentivise people to conserve water. We want to reward those who make the effort to save water."
Councillor Grant Boyde says making everyone pay the same amount isn't fair, and he welcomes the proposal to move to water metering.
"Currently there is no incentive for people to save water. There is no reason not to leave a tap running, or run sprinklers and hoses constantly. Water metering is a much fairer system as it makes people responsible for their own usage. People who conserve water should be recognised."
Councillor Jono Erwood also supports the introduction of water meters, saying it is a way to ensure the sustainability of the district's water supply.
"Water is a precious commodity and resource that must be conserved to provide sustainable usage for all. There is only so much water to go around so we must conserve it. While we do get plenty of rain at times, this runs off quickly and we do not have the facilities to store it."
Councillor Boyde says if water meters are introduced, it is likely many people will pay less for their water than they do under the current everyone pays the same system.
"It's estimated an average household of two people, who don't use much water in their garden, use around 125 cubic metres of water in a year, for which they would pay $544. Without water meters, staying with our current rating system, that same household is forecast to pay $740 in 2023/34 in targeted rates for water."
Boyde says people often mistakenly consider water to be a free resource.
"Water isn't free. It might come from the sky at no charge, but catching it, making it safe to drink, getting it to run from the mountain to your kitchen tap, that isn't free. Water meters are a fairer way for council to recoup that cost."
Erwood says he believes water meters will save money for the district overall.
"Once water meters have been installed, council will process a smaller amount of water and this will be more cost effective. Council will also be able to track down water losses a lot easier, especially in private properties, stopping water being wasted needlessly."
He says he is hopeful people will support the proposal to introduce water meters.
"Council staff have done the research and have come to this conclusion as being the best for Stratford. It will mean our resource is used efficiently and also paid for fairly. I think people will recognise that and submit in favour of it."
Have your say: Visit www.stratford.govt.nz for more information on the LTP consultation and how to have your say on this issue and others.
Disclaimer: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to the CEO of Stratford District Council.