Whangaparaoa Community Trust

(wctrust.co.nz) and the Whangaparaoa Ratepayers and Residents Association Inc (www.wrrai.co.nz)
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Whangaparaoa Residents and Ratepayers Assoc

Excess Wastewater charges for properties on water tanks and bore water

Excess Wastewater charges for properties on water tanks and bore water

Thank you for your support and interest.
We start this email with a general update, how you can help, going forward and summary of points.
Then there is further information about installing a meter (various options, timing, practicality), calculating your tankwater supply (how much water your roof and tank can give you) and calculating your demand (how much you use).  You may want to flick through and jump to the bits that fit your situation.

View this online at:
http://wrrai.co.nz/blogs/whangaparaoa_residents_and_ratepayers_assoc/archive/2012/08/29/excess-wastewater-charges-for-properties-on-water-tanks-and-bore-water.aspx

Update

Since the meeting at the Whangaparaoa Hall organised by the Whangaparaoa Ratepayers and Residents Association (WRRA) last month a further public meeting was held at Snells Beach.  Both meetings were well attended with overwhelming support for a fairer, more equitable Wastewater charge for households on water tanks and bores.  And a better, more informed way of arriving at the charge.
There has been a story on ‘Campbell Live’, reports in the Rodney Times and Local Matters and The New Zealand Herald.  The local newspapers have had a steady flow of concerned letters.  We have received copies of emails sent to Watercare especially in response to the recent Wastewater accounts that people have received.
We have worked out possible, practical solutions, questioned Watercare and continued to raise your concerns.
Last week (23rd August) a deputation from Whangaparaoa Ratepayers and Residents Association presented at the Board Meeting of Watercare.  President Winsbury White advocated for lower charges and the option of a water meter as the basis for charging for those homeowners requesting this option.

Going forward

Watercare is investigating the issue with the aim of presenting their findings to the Auckland Council for the meeting of the Accountability and Performance Committee on Thursday the 13th September.  We will not know Watercare’s findings until the agenda is out within the week prior.  We will send out further information as soon as this is to hand.  He membership of this committee includes all Councillors and the Mayor.  The agenda item should be available under the Accountability and Performance Committee on the Auckland Council web.  
http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/meetings_agendas/committees/Pages/home.aspx

Suggestions for action

Let Watercare and Auckland Council know your situation.  Advise them when you pay
Please copy us in to correspondence to Watercare and Auckland Council
Email us on:  
contact@wrrai.co.nz
Depending on the response we get from Watercare we will suggest further action.  Watch for the next email before the Accountability and Finance Meeting
Look for the Council agenda out prior to the 13th September; it should be on the website over the weekend and the Monday before at the latest.  We will be making a deputation to the meeting on the 13th of September.  This will be at the Auckland Town Hall, 2nd floor reception.  Please advise us if you would like to share transport. Go to:
http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/meetings_agendas/committees/Pages/home.aspx
Contact Councillors and Watercare; we will make some suggestions and advise email contacts
Calculate your Water Supply
Calculate your Water Demand – work out how much you should be paying for wastewater
Consider the installation of a meter – especially if you are likely to make significant savings.
You may want to wait until we know whether Watercare will accept private meters as the basis of reading; this may take a little while yet.
Help us.  We need volunteers to help people with their calculations, to install meters and we would like to deliver a brochure to all residents on Whangaparaoa.  Please email:  contact@wrrai.co.nz
Join the Whangaparaoa Ratepayers and Residents Association who are battling this issue.  Cost is $6 single, $10 double.  Post/drop in our letterbox at the entrance to the Whangaparaoa Hall, 717 Whangaparaoa Road
Wastewater campaign contacts:  Winsbury White 4247554, John Watson 4241034, Wayne Walker 4243121, Greg Sayers 021 2859900

Summary of points

The $582 fixed wastewater charge for households on water tanks on bore water is unfair, not equitable, the price is unreasonable and it is not good policy.
It is economical and practical for many properties to install a water meter on the supply pipe to the household as a basis for charging wastewater.
The meter is the same as Watercare’s, can be read by Watercare’s contractors, can be more tamper-proof than Watercare’s meter, does not have to be paid or maintained by Watercare and if necessary can be fitted with radio frequency that can be read by Watercare’s meter reading contractors.
It should be the consumer’s choice to have their wastewater charged on the basis of a water meter.  Commercial consumers can have special treatment; why not households?
The $582 wastewater charge can be shown to be grossly overcharging for many households with one or more of:
reduced water supply from small roof area, small tank capacity
reduced water demand from small household size, water conservation practices, holiday homes, limited occupancy.
Watercare should have a significantly reduced charge for properties on water tanks.
Watercare should be actively encouraging households to install water tanks for water conservation, stormwater storage and sustainability that fit with Auckland Council and Watercare policies - rather than penalizing households.

Meters on water tanks and bores

Fitting a meter and making it available for Watercare to read and use as the basis for their charge is an obvious option and was put forward at the public meetings with widespread support.
It may suit your situation, it may not.  Right now the cost of the installation is a risk because we do not know whether Watercare will accept this option.
On the 23rd May Councillor Wayne Walker had a resolution carried though the Council Strategy and Finance Committee:
‘That Auckland Council investigate opportunities for properties on reticulated wastewater but served by water tanks, in areas with volumetric charging of wastewater based on water consumption, to have the opportunity to have their own water meter read as the basis for the volumetric wastewater charge.’
A practical solution is for Watercare to receive a reading from a meter on the water supply to the house and use this as the basis for the Wastewater charge.  This is what they do for properties on reticulated water.
The difference is that the meter would be on the property – and probably owned by the household - rather than at the boundary and owned by Watercare.
The situation is similar to the electricity meter which is inside the property and available to be read, generally by a contractor to the electricity supplier.  Electricity readings (unless read automatically) are not taken manually each month with estimated readings in-between.
At this stage because we do not know what solution(s) is/are acceptable to Watercare the installation and costs of a meter on your property are your risk.  But we regard it as important to at least trial a number of installations so that we have the ‘proof’ and practical evidence this will work.
We have negotiated the best prices we can obtain at this stage from the supplier and are making the meters available through the Whangaparaoa Community Trust at cost including GST, with information and support for installation.
The water meters and the supplier are the same as those used by Watercare for the meters on properties with reticulated water.  The cost however is more because Watercare have a special price based on their large purchases.  If Watercare made the meters available at their cost price there could be a further saving of 25%.

Where to fit the meter

There are a number of locations where the meter can be fitted dependent on the situation and preference.
In most situations houses have a pressure pump in the supply pipe to the house.  The pipe size from the tank (or bore) to the house and pump is likely to be 25mm.
After the pump the pipe size may drop down to 20mm.
The pump could be inside the house or outside in some form of shelter or shed.
Where you choose to fit the meter is dependent on: practicality, access and readability, meter size (and cost) and whether the read is manual or remote (using a radio frequency device, or automatic meter reader, that is added on)
Fitting the meter outside in a location that is accessible to a meter reader is one choice.  
This probably means a 25mm meter if on the pipe between the tank and the pump.
Where possible it may be desirable to fit the meter after the pump (on the downstream side) and still in an accessible situation from outside the house for ease of reading.  This may mean a 20mm meter with a much lower cost for the meter itself and fittings.
Fitting the meter after the pump also reduces the possibility of the meter blocking because the water is being pushed through under pressure in a fully charged pipe.
The other choice is to fit the meter after the pump and inside the house in a less accessible location for reading.  This will still offer the possibility of the addition of the radio frequency sender if and when Watercare moves to this.  This is a possible add-on regardless of where the meter is installed; inside or out.
So you need to work out which location works for you.  You may wish to wait and see what solutions Watercare comes up with before you install a meter.

Costs and details for meters

Meters are Elster PSMT (which is the water meter used by Watercare)

Specs are as follows:
- 20mm length including tails: 267mm
- 20mm Diameter: 86mm
- 25mm length including tails: 311mm
- 25mm Diameter: 104mm
Prices as below:
- 20mm PSMT c/w nut & tail: $96.00 ($110.40 incl gst)
- 25mm PSMT c/w nut & tail: $236.00 ($271.40 incl gst)
(If we can purchase at cost through Watercare there could be significant further savings up to 25%)
- Pulse unit and RF remote reader (additional) : $204.00
Installation:
- $80.00 labour per meter (approx) by Meter Services Limited
- $40.00 to install RF unit at the same time.  This price includes programming remote reader and informing meter reading company of remote reader.
- Plus fittings
- Plus travel
This does not include initial inspection, if required, to find out the type of pipe work.
Installation of remote reader (retro fit after the meter has been fitted).
- $40.00 installation
- $40.00 programming
- Plus travel
Plus GST (all the above prices are plus GST)
Of course you can install the meter yourself or have a plumber or helper do the installation

Meters are ex stock, however RF units are made to order and are normally 2 - 3 weeks delivery.

The meters are tamper proof and the installation can be 'tamper proofed' to a degree.  The meter nuts have tags that can have sealing wire threaded through and sealed.
The RF unit has a 'wire cut' alert if the wires have been tampered with.
At this stage we have a number of meters we have purchased to supply.
We are not stocking the RF units ourselves at this stage – but can assist with sourcing to your specification based on an order.
Initially we are not suggesting that the meters need to be tamper proofed or installed by Meter Services Limited.  If Watercare accept our solution then this would be a recommended option if Watercare consider tamper-proofing is necessary. (But bear in mind that Watercare’s own meters at the boundary are not tamper proof – so why should they expect more from the property owner)
If you wish to order a meter from us please email:
contact@wctrust.co.nz
Leave a phone message on the WRRA/Whangaparaoa Community Trust phone 4248349
Drop a note to: WRRA, 717 Whangaparaoa Road

Fair and equitable charging

We do not believe that in many instances the charge of $582 for Wastewater for a year is fair or accurate for many people on water tanks and bores.
Households on tank water have to use less water because their supply is limited by rainfall, roof area and tank capacity.  Households on tank water learn to conserve and practice water conservation.
To be fair Watercare should have based an estimated charge for wastewater on a reduced water consumption pattern for tank/ water than for households on reticulated water supply.
The situation is made worse when members of the household go on holiday and/or the house is vacant for a time – especially if it is a holiday home.
Worse still the estimated charge penalizes single person households and households that actively conserve water.
There is no apparent consideration of encouraging water conservation and sustainability within the fixed charge for wastewater of $582.
Watercare state in their ‘Auckland Regional Water Demand Management Plan’
“by law Watercare has to manage its operations efficiently with a view to keeping the overall costs of water supply and wastewater services to its customers at minimum levels’
“Since Aucklanders pay for water on a metered (volumetric) basis, households and businesses that use water wisely are better off”
Watercare’s Statement of Corporate Intent (2011) includes:
Satisfied Customers and Stakeholders:  To provide great service and great value’
Under metering Watercare note:
“In the future it may be possible to install smart meters at properties.  Smart meters can communicate directly with Watercare, removing the need to read meters in the street.  Not only will this enable accurate billing on a frequent basis, but it can also be used to identify changes in consumption.”
And under
Watercare and Council Controlled Organisations water efficiency programmes
“It is important that Watercare and the Council Controlled Organisations are seen as being water efficient.  Not only does this reduce water use, but it can also spread positive messages about water conservation”  
Watercare is taking a different approach to commercial water users and negotiating special cases for reduced wastewater charges where these can be proven (for example Coca Cola where much of the water goes into the soft drinks rather than ending up as wastewater)
Watercare should be adopting a different and special approach to households on tank water/bore water supply where they have proven reduced amount of wastewater based on proven reduced water consumption.

Some people have pointed out to us that the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act are relevant to the issue
The Consumer Guarantees Act covers Services

Services

Service providers guarantee their services will be:

- Performed with reasonable care and skill.
- Fit for the particular purpose they were supplied for.
- Completed within a reasonable time.
- A reasonable price, if no price or pricing formula has been previously agreed.

The Fair Trading Act 1986 protects you against being misled or treated unfairly by traders or shops.
The Act prohibits what is called "misleading or deceptive conduct, false representations and unfair practices". It also sets out when information about certain products must be disclosed to consumers, and helps ensure products are safe.
The Act applies to everyone in trade. As well as traders and shops, the Act covers government agencies and state-owned enterprises. Most of the Act does not cover private sales.

$582 Wastewater charge is unjustified

It is difficult to see how the amount of $582 can be justified for many households on tank water
If we make the reasonable assumption that an average roof is about 100 square meters, and use ARC's (Auckland Regional Council) value of 1100mm (1.1 metres) annual rainfall on the peninsula (http://www.arc.govt.nz/albany/fms/main/Documents/Plans/Technical%20publications/151-200/TP%20171%20-%20Auckland%20Water%20Quantity%20Statement%202002%20part%201.pdf), that puts an average of 110,000 liters in our tank for a (100 square metre roof) each year – assuming the tank does not overflow

If we then apply the Watercare calculation which multiples the water by 78.5% (for deducting water on the garden etc that does not go down the wastewater pipes), we get 86,350 litres.
86,350 x $2.281 per 1,000 litres (Volumetric charge for wastewater) = $196.96
Plus the Fixed annual charge of $190 (everybody pays this)
Gives a total of $190 + $196.96 = $386.96
Of course this assumes that all the rainfall off the roof is being captured over the entire year and that it is all being used (or 78.5% of it)
This is not the case because over the winter months a significant proportion of rain water overflows.
You can use the above base figures to estimate what your possible consumption might be.

You own supply calculation

  1. Work out the roof area.  This will be the length of the roof x the width.  It may be that you need to add a number of areas together if your roof is not rectangular.  It is the flat area of the roof that you are after as if you were looking down on the roof from above.  The pitch of the roof is not relevant.

  1. Multiply the area by the rainfall.  This is 1.1 metres for the whole year
  2. This gives you the maximum supply (for a 100 square metre roof this is 110 cubic metres)
  3. 78.5% x the maximum supply = the estimated wastewater amount

  1. Maximum supply x $2.281 per 1,000 litres (Volumetric charge for wastewater) = $wastewater charge

Data below are mean monthly values for the 1971-2000 period for locations having at least 5 complete years of data
LOCATION

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

YEAR

AUCKLAND

75

65

94

105

103

139

146

121

116

91

93

91

1240



We suggest that for many households much of the rainfall over winter goes to waste.  It is consumption that determines the wastewater usage rather than supply
We will be publishing the consumption figures from households with meters installed

Estimates of consumption can be arrived at by adding up:

Toilet use (a dual modern dual flush uses 6 litres full, 3 litres half)
Shower use (use a bucket under the shower head to calculate volume per minute and then multiply up)
Bath use (calculate the bath volume)
Tap use (use a bucket under the tap to calculate volume per minute, and multiply up)
Washing machine use (the instructions for the machine should indicate use dependent on cycle setting, alternatively measure the volume coming out, or contact the supplier)
Dishwasher (the instructions for the machine should indicate use dependent on cycle setting, alternatively measure the volume coming out, or contact the supplier)

Properties affected

Here are the estimated number of properties affected (from Watercare). We believe there are more properties than this in other parts of the region.
“These are the figures that we are currently aware of.”
There are 8,276 domestic customers charged only the fixed wastewater charge.
Former LNONumber of Accounts
Manukau

2351

Rodney

5762

Franklin

118

North Shore

45

Total

8276



Here are some relevant articles to look at:
http://wsud.melbournewater.com.au/content/treatment_measures/rain_water_tanks.asp
http://library.melbournewater.com.au/content/wsud/sustainable_urban_design/Rainwater_Tanks.pdf
http://www.hollandbpw.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/Water/Water%20Meters%20101.pdf
http://www.fwrj.com/techarticles/0811%20tech1.pdf
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 9:53 AM by admin

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