Home owner in stoush with council over leaking toby

Sam Sharpe has been trying to get the Dunedin City Council to fix a leaking toby for nearly a...
Sam Sharpe has been trying to get the Dunedin City Council to fix a leaking toby for nearly a month.PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
A puddle is threatening to turn into a quagmire for a Dunedin property owner, who remains locked in a dispute with the Dunedin City Council over a leaking water toby.

Sam Sharpe has been trying to get the council to fix the leaking toby outside his home in Langham Tce, Northeast Valley, for nearly a month.

The toby - a type of water shut-off valve between private water pipes and council-owned mains - is on a private pipe connecting the city's water supply to Mr Sharpe's home.

But the toby was under a private right-of-way not owned by him or any of the other residents, and which the council now considered to be abandoned land, Mr Sharpe said.

Mr Sharpe is refusing to cover the cost of repairing what he said was likely to be a deteriorated washer or grommet, the repair of which should be covered by council rates.

But as the puddle turns into a small stream, and the hole gets deeper, the council is refusing to budge.

First it offered to send out a plumber and add the cost to Mr Sharpe's annual rates bill.

He declined.

Then, on Monday, it dispatched an assessor to check the damage - but only so it could issue Mr Sharpe with a notice, requiring him to fix the toby.

"The guy who came out said `Oh, I could've fixed this easy, but I'm not allowed to'.

"So they've got the resources to send somebody out to look at it, assess it and then bill me.

"I just don't see why I should get a plumber to come and fix something that I pay rates for. It's crazy."

Council 3 waters group manager Tom Dyer maintained the toby was owned by Mr Sharpe "even though it's not on his property".

And the council was "not responsible for work on private infrastructure", he said.

"It [the toby] connects his pipes to shared private pipes, which in turn connect to the public network."

The contractor sent to inspect the toby was tasked with assessing the leak, not fixing it, he said.

"They are not authorised to work on private infrastructure. When they find a leak on private assets, they advise the landowner and move on to the next public job."

The council received notification of about 1000 "water shut-off" leaks each year, but most were on infrastructure it was responsible for, Mr Dyer said.

Mr Sharpe said the issue was one of both cost and principle, and he had no plans to pay for the repairs.

"I'm an artist. My budget is pretty tight ... I make certain allowances for things, but this kind of thing - I think I'd like to put my foot down."

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