Con­nect­ing to the mains might soon get cheaper

Western Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAY BOREHAM

New leg­is­la­tion might soon make it cheaper to con­nect to mains wa­ter in Auck­land.

The Gov­ern­ment is look­ing to strip Water­care of its In­fra­struc­ture Growth Charge (IGC) and re­place it with devel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions, un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act 2002 Amend­ment Bill (No 2).

For cus­tomers on rain­wa­ter sys­tems look­ing to free them­selves from the con­straints hav­ing a wa­ter tank can bring, the IGC can make the move to mains sup­ply a pipe dream.

Elec­tri­cian Kyle Ed­monds lives in the ur­ban sub­urb of Stan­more Bay in north Auck­land.

With an age­ing tank he was hop­ing to hook into mains sup­ply and say good­bye to the woes of pow­er­cuts and sum­mer sea­son runouts.

Hav­ing a tween, toddler and baby in the house­hold meant run­ning out of wa­ter was a night­mare, and a mid-shower runout was a ‘‘pain in the ass’’, Ed­monds said.

But with the IGC added to a quote for a wa­ter me­ter, con­nec­tion costs, and about 12 me­tres of pipe to the wa­ter­main right out­side his house, it came to $13,800.

Ed­monds said the price seemed grossly in­flated for the work in­volved, and he be­lieved ex­pect­ing res­i­dents to pay for in­fra­struc­ture they don’t ben­e­fit from is un­fair.

‘‘That’s some­thing I feel the av­er­age fam­ily can’t af­ford.’’

The Bill had passed its first read­ing and with two more to go could be months or years away from passing into law.

Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion prin­ci­pal ad­vi­sor Geoff Lewis said the com­mis­sion’s crit­i­cism of the IGC was the way Water­care cal­cu­lated the charge as an av­er­age across the whole re­gion.

‘‘The costs should fall on those who ben­e­fit from the ex­ten­sion which is ul­ti­mately the new house­hold or the new busi­nesses that are be­ing con­nected up.’’

The IGC did not re­cover full

‘‘That's some­thing I feel the av­er­age fam­ily can't af­ford.’’ Kyle Ed­monds

costs, wasn’t trans­par­ent and didn’t give de­vel­op­ers the chance to ap­peal and push back on the coun­cil to keep them hon­est, Lewis said.

The New Zealand Prop­erty Coun­cil was vo­cal in its sup­port of hav­ing the IGC re­moved and re­plac­ing it with charges that re­flected the true costs of each devel­op­ment, were trans­par­ent, and had ap­peal rights.

‘‘It is still not passed but we hope it will go through,’’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Con­nal Townsend said.

RE­NEE CLAY­TON/FAIR­FAX NZ

The Ed­monds fam­ily, Harper, Kyle, Christina and Indie, think the growth charge for tank own­ers is ridicu­lous and some­thing the av­er­age Auck­land fam­ily can’t af­ford.

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