31 May 2010

WATER METERING

WATER WATER EQUAL SHARES - OR - SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS!
The ongoing installation of water meters throughout Central Otago raised the ire of Naseby residents recently. Given that the permanent residences in the town number just 65, the initial water allocation before charging commenced was ridiculously low 168 cm.  To add insult to injury, the charge for every unit used over and above the basic allocation was the highest in the district at $3.47!  The charges for units exceeding the basic allocation for Cromwell, Alexandra and Clyde were considerably lower.  Understandably, Naseby Vision was very concerned about the obvious inequity.  This concern resulted in the presence of Murray Washington, the CODC's Manager of Assets and Contracts, as the guest speaker at the AGM in 2009.  As he became aware of the depth of feeling, as well as the obvious inequities, he agreed to look again at the Naseby situation.  Some months later, Naseby Vision received from Council a number of options for comment.  After some considerable discussion a preferred option was agreed on, with a secondary option to boot,and these options were sent back to the Council. Naseby Vision appreciated the opportunity to have input into this contentious proposal.

However, at the next Community Board meeting, when the Board was to approve the planned changes, it became apparent that the options put forward by Naseby Vision had somehow gone astray!!  It also became apparent that Community Board members had never received the options put forward by Naseby Vision!!  Again, thanks to considerable time and effort on the part of Stuart Hore, a Naseby Vision committee member, the Community Board were presented with a compelling argument for change to the number of units per household before charging commenced. 

The nub of Stuart's arguments was that, if you added the number of permanent residences in Naseby plus the businesses, you came up with approximately 65, the remaining non-permanent residences (averaged out at an occupancy rate of 52 days/year) equated to 40 permanent households making a total of 105 equivalent permanent households.  By dividing the annual consumption figures of 55250 cm (the so-called free units) you arrived at an average of 526 units per permanent household (the CODC's proposed new allowance was 365 units).  Any allowance under this amount (526) did not allow the ratepayer the amount of water paid for in the uniform annual charge.  Through Stuart, Naseby Vision strenuously opposed the low allocation and recommended a minimum allocation of 500 units before excess charging applied.  As well, it recommended that these excess charges should be costed at production costs only and should not include infrastructure, loan and other costs already met under the uniform annual charge. Basic allocation for households is based on a usage of 250 L/person/day, a standard measure.

Stuart's presentation took place during the public session, before the Community Board meeting proper.  It was with much delight that Naseby Vision saw its recommendations accepted by the Community Board during the main meeting, and the committee believes that this was a significant milestone for the organisation.  This is just a brief outline of the work involved in getting some sense into the process and any further information about the initial proposals, the options put forward and finally chosen are available from the Secretary - nasebyvision@gmail.com