Water issues flushed out in council plan

Water, specifically volumetric charging for water and "districtisation" of charges, has been a main issue for Central Otago residents in the district council's long-term plan.

The council will review the 262 submissions today after the district's four community boards heard them during the past two days.

More than half of the people submitting about water issues supported the idea of the districtisation of water charges.

The council's summary of the long-term plan stated the cost to maintain the water infrastructure differed greatly in each Central Otago town.

This meant financial benefits for ratepayers in the larger towns like Alexandra and Cromwell but disadvantaged those in townships such as Omakau.

For many, even those in towns with cheaper water charges, districtisation was considered fair.

It was thought a district-wide charge would lighten the financial load for ratepayers in the likes of Omakau, who are facing a potential annual uniform charge of almost $900 before the volumetric charge for actual water use is added.

That is about $850 more than ratepayers in Clyde would pay for their annual uniform charge.

Some submitters called for exemptions from the annual uniform charge for the likes of churches, playcentres or other places that provide a service to the community.

While the amount of support for districisation was clear, it was not the case for volumetric charging. The numbers were close, but slightly more people were opposed to volumetric charging than supported it.

The plan was to charge ratepayers on town water supplies between 58c and $1.24, depending on which town they lived in, for each cubic metre of water used from July 1 this year.

Only Roxburgh residents would be exempt, as not all water meters there are installed yet.

A theme running through the submissions in opposition to volumetric charging was that people would be reluctant to water their gardens, lawns and council-owned grass verges.

Another hot topic throughout the wards was the proposed 7% rates increase, with many people submitting the council should focus on needs not wants and try to keep rates increases close to the rate of inflation.

A common opinion from ratepayers in the Vincent ward was that water scheme upgrades should be deferred, but there was also support for doing the upgrade now.

A theme emerging from the Cromwell submissions was of support for funds to build an amenities building at the Central Otago Sports Turf in Anderson Park, Cromwell.

Throughout the district, many people submitted on the issue of waste minimisation; most disagreed with the council's move to a fortnightly rubbish collection from July next year.

Once the council considers the submissions, as well as any comments forwarded from the four community boards, the long-term plan might be amended.