Big increase in water rates proposed as demand increases in Selwyn district

Metered water rates are set to increase. What do you think? Email
Metered water rates are set to increase. What do you think? Email Photo: File
Residents face paying up to $87 more each year for household water as the Selwyn District Council aims to meet increasing costs and manage high demand.

The proposal is part of the Long Term Plan 2021-2031 consultation document, which the district council adopted last week. Public consultation opens on Monday.

This Way . . . 2031 sets out key projects and activities for the next decade.

There are eight major proposals. They include changing the way residents pay for the supply of their water to meet increasing costs and help manage high demand.

The council’s preferred option is to increase the metered water rate by 20 per cent each year for the first two years.

The rate would increase from its current cost of 50 cents per cubic metre (1000 litres) to 72 cents per cubic metre from July 2022 under this option, representing a 44 per cent increase over two years. In addition, the fixed base rate would increase from $254 to $280 per year.

This would mean an approximate annual increase of $50 per year for a low water user, $70 per year for an average user, and $87 per year for a high user.

The council’s second, less-preferred option is to increase the metered water rate from 50 cents per cubic metre to 60 cents, while increasing the fixed rate from $254 to $307.

This would mean an approximate annual increase of $64 for a low water user, $73 for an average user and $81 for a high user.

The rate per water unit for restricted supplies in rural areas is also set to increase, by as much as $433 per year under the more expensive second option, for those on 10 water units per day.

The water supply increases are within the council’s average annual rate rises of 4-5 per cent forecast in the Long Term Plan.

Currently, the metered rate of 50 cents per cubic metre is one of the lowest rates in New Zealand.

Mayor Sam Broughton said the first more-preferred option encouraged better water management, as residents paid on the basis of what they used. It also gave residents more control of what their costs were.

The increase was needed to meet rising costs of providing water in the face of changing regulatory requirements.

In addition, the council wanted to have its water infrastructure in the best place possible, particularly as the Government proposed management of water in future to be taken over by multi-regional entities.

Long Term Plan proposals include constructing $18 million of new community centres at Leeston, Prebbleton and Hororata. Three of the eight major proposals are for new community centres. They are: 

Building a new community centre for Prebbleton, costing $6.3 million, building a new combined library/service centre and community centre on Leeston Park, costing $8.9 million, and developing a new Hororata Community Centre on the domain, costing up to $3 million.

The remaining four major proposals are – continuing the current approach to maintaining safe water supplies and complying with expected new regulations, developing a reticulated wastewater system in Darfield and Kirwee with a connection to Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) at Rolleston, improving the roading network with an option to undertake additional maintenance by adding extra funding, and undertaking an extensive programme of roading upgrades and projects across the district.

Alongside the eight major proposals, the council has listed other important projects in the plan. Feedback in welcomed. These include – repairing the Darfield swimming pool with a view to building a new or upgraded facility in 2030/31, piping wastewater from Ellesmere to Pines WWTP and potentially including Upper Selwyn Huts, expanding the treatment capacity of the Pines WWTP costing $100 million funded by development contributions, increasing solid waste disposal charges from $2.50 to $2.75 for refuse bags and from $257 per tonne to $270 per tonne at Pines Resource Recovery Park, and increasing burial fees and charges by 15 per cent from July, following these not having increased for the last five years.

This Way . . . 2031 is available at and from council offices and local libraries. Submissions close 5pm, April 30.

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