Users to have say on water schemes

Consumers on four North Otago rural water supplies are to be given the chance to have a say on how they should be managed and operated in the future.

Representatives from the Awamoko, Kauru Hill, Tokarahi and Windsor schemes under the Corriedale Water Group have examined a proposal to reduce the cost of water to about 1150 consumers and stock on about 50,000ha while maintaining a reliable supply.

The group has worked with the Waitaki District Council to draw up a proposal, which will go out to consumers for their views.

It is hoped to make final decisions about management by December, and, if changes are made, they would undergo a two-year trial before being reviewed. Yesterday, the council's committee of the whole recommended the council approve the proposal and undertake the consultation, which Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton ''strongly supported''.

''It is the first step, but a very important one.''

The proposal would give people an element of control over their own services, he said.

At present, rural water schemes are managed through separate water committees, but on a day-to-day basis by council staff and its appointed contractors.

In recent years, some have wanted more say over their schemes, resulting in the four Corriedale schemes drawing up a proposal.

It would change the focus from decision-making and management through the council to consumer-driven decision-making and hands-on operation of the four schemes by the Corriedale Water Group.

The council would still have an overview to ensure legal responsibilities were met.

If the proposal is supported by consumers, it is expected savings would be made.

''This would be possibly because the work currently done by council staff would be carried out by volunteers from the supplies and contractors who have to tender competitively for the work,'' the proposal says.

Consumers will receive a letter, background information, the proposal, a questionnaire and submission form. Submissions close on October 29.

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