Water Use, Leaks and Meters

Water meters for Whitianga & Whangamatā town supplies

Work is starting - April 2021

Advance work is starting in Whitianga on the water meter installation project, which may mean Council contractors briefly stepping onto private property to visually locate water connections, contractors will make contact with home owners in advance where connections cannot be located visually.

Over the next week Veolia, our water services contractor, will start physically locating each property’s water connection and schedule any work required to make the connections ready to have a water meter attached.

In some cases, water meter connections may need to be upgraded, replaced, installed, or unbundled where multiple properties are serviced by one connection.

A date to install water meters in Whitianga has not been set, but this work will be completed by March 2022.

FAQ Sheet

To read more about this project, download our FAQ sheet here

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Background

Grant funding we've received from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) of $4.8 million will be used to install nearly 7,822 water meters on the Whitianga and Whangamatā water supply systems. As part of the funding agreement with DIA, the work must begin by March 2021 and be completed by March 2022.

This was endorsed by Council at its last meeting of the year 2020.

“Water metering has been proven to be a valuable tool for tracking down water loss, and accurately measuring water volumes reaching consumer properties,” says our Council’s Operations Group Manager Bruce Hinson.  "We can make savings through locating major leaks, knowing who our biggest water users are, and working with them to look at ways to better manage and conserve water."

Water Demand Strategy

Our Water Demand Strategy identifies conservation measures to manage drinking water demand within our district,  including the installation of meters on properties. A copy of this strategy can be found here.

Water demand management is a separate matter from our actual water supply sources. Water demand management is about achieving efficient water use by our communities.

One of the demand management measures in our Water Demand Strategy is the installation of water meters on properties. Our Council already has a number of our water supplies on water meters, such as Thames, Thames South, Pauanui and Tairua, so the concept is not new to our district. Water meters will also help us better identify where the leaks are in our network and quantify how much water is actually being lost. This will help improve how we conserve and manage supplies.

We are now extending water by meter to cover properties in Whitianga and Whangamatā. These meter installations are scheduled to take place during the period March 2021-March 2022. This installation will be at no cost to you. We won’t be charging residents for water by meter for at least two years following this installation. These ­first two years will be used to gather consumption data, which will be shared with you.

Water metering is also an essential enabler for volumetric-based charging regimes. Metering also provides a fair and equitable approach to water pricing. In other words, water users will pay for what they use, same as their electricity bill for example. Any water charging regimes in the future is likely to see a reduction in ­fixed charges and more of a charge based on volumetric use.

Early in the new year we will provide you more information on this water metering programme. Stay up to date by following us on Facebook, sign-up to have news direct to your email inbox: tcdc.govt.nz/subscribe, or keep an eye and ear out for our ads in local newspapers and regular spots on local radios.


 

Checking your Water Meter

This section provides a guide to reading your water meter, checking for water leaks and reducing your water bill.  There are a number of reasons to consistently monitor your water meter:

  • Water isn’t as free and abundant as you might think.
  • If you have a water leak on your property, then our precious water resource is being wasted. Get to know your water meter and you’ll find it easier to do your bit for water conservation. Did you know water for each of our communities comes from groundwater or streams that play a large part in the on-going restoration of the Peninsula’s ecological balance?
  • Water costs money, so if you do have a water leak, it makes sense to get it repaired quickly.

By frequently checking your water meter, you can identify any water wastage and reduce your water usage resulting in a financial gain. Why pay for water you’re not using? It’s surprising how often Council gets phone calls from people who don’t know where their water toby or meter is located. Make sure you know where your meter is.

How to find and read your meter

Unfortunately, not all water meter boxes look the same. Modern boxes are black and have a blue lid. However meter boxes and their lids can also be concrete, steel or even wood, and come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. This is also true of the water meters located in these boxes as there are a number of different styles and brands in use depending on when they were installed or last replaced. Once you have located your meter box, open the lid and locate the toby tap which supplies water to your property. You should see the meter adjacent to this. Most meters have a display panel of both black and red figures. The black on white figures show cubic metres, and Council only read these black and white figures for charging purposes.  If checking for possible water leaks (read on to find out how to perform a leak test using your meter) you will need to read both the black on white and the red on white digits. The red digits indicate litres of water passing into your property. Keep in mind, it is each property owner's responsibility to ensure the meter and box is kept visible at all times.

How to use your meter to check for a leak

A simple way to see if you are losing water is to read your water meter before you go to bed at night, and again first thing in the morning before any water appliances are used. You can calculate how much water is being lost through the water that is passed through during this no usage period. But remember not to use any water during the night! This same type of test can be done during the day while you are at work or any other time when there will be no normal water usage occurring on your property.  Here is an example of the process:

  1. Write down all digits on your water meter at start of your test period. Put a decimal point between the black and red digits.
  2. Example - Start of test period reading: 37462859 (Note reading as 3746.2859)
  3. Don’t use any water during your test period.
  4. Write down all the digits on your water meter at the end of your test period before using any water. Again put a decimal point between the black and red digits.
  5. Example - End of test period reading: 37463105 (Note reading as 3746.3105)
  6. Now subtract the total on the start of test period reading from the total on the end of test period reading. 3746.310 (Test period start) - 3746.286 (Test period end) = 24 litres (water volume lost). This gives the volume of water lost overnight. If the meter dues have 4 red digits, the last one represents 1/10 of a litre.  Generally if there is leakage, you will be able to see this register moving.

If these readings indicate there has been water usage, when you are sure that no normal water usage has occurred, this would indicate that you have a leak somewhere on your property. It is the property owner's responsibility to get the leak repaired. If you are unable to locate or repair the problem we would suggest you contact your plumber for help.

How to save money when you've found a leak

If you’re on a metered property and have suffered excessive water consumption due to a leak or other similar circumstances, you can apply for rates relief on your water bill. You will need to provide evidence that you’ve fixed the leak and can then get relief on up to 100 per cent of the excess water charge for the first affected billing period, and 50 per cent for the second affected billing period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all properties have water meters?

Not at present. Currently only Coromandel, Pauanui and Thames townships water supplies are fully metered, and commercial properties in Whitianga. 

As of 1 July 2019 all Thames Valley properties are metered and will be charged for water consumed.

Council will investigate metering other areas within the 2018-2028 long-term plan period.

What do the charges for water cover?

If you are in one of our water metered areas, you will be charged a set charge for water on your rates account as well as receiving a water account which covers the water consumed through your meter.

All the charges together cover maintenance and upkeep of water supply infrastructure and running of your local water treatment plant as well as the cost of the actual treated water used. Areas that do not have water meters obviously do not get a water account, but still pay for water use through a higher set charge rate type applied to the rate account.

What is a toby?

The meter tap, or toby, shuts off water to the whole of your property. It’s a good idea to know where your meter taps are before an emergency strikes. Check this once or twice a year to make sure it is working properly and if it is corroded, stiff or not working let Council know so it can be repaired or replaced. Council will replace your toby at no cost to the property owner.

Bach owner?

As we mentioned previously if you don’t live on the Peninsula and use your property as a bach, why not turn off the water toby when you leave? It may save you money and will ensure any small water leaks won’t show up and cause damage while you’re not there.

How do I report leaks on public property?

Call us at the Council 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report water leaks or wastage on phone (07) 868 0200.

What else can I do to conserve water?

Visit our water conservation webpage for more tips and advice on water conservation.