Water  |  17 Jun 2020

Only households that use substantially more water than the average would face an extra charge for water if Christchurch City Council moves forward with a proposal to introduce a new targeted water rate.

“We’re talking about an excess water charge for those households that use a huge amount of water – way more than the average household,” says Council Head of Three Waters and Waste Helen Beaumont.

“The average Christchurch household uses 540 litres a day, and they would need to use more than 915 litres a day – every day for a whole year – to trigger the charge. That’s almost double the average amount, which is a massive volume of water for any household to be using every day.”

Christchurch residents currently pay a targeted rate for their water supply based on the capital value of their property.

Ms Beaumont says households would not pay twice, as there would be an allowance for water – also based on the capital value of a property – before any charge for excess water use applied.

Commercial users already receive a water allowance based on the capital value of their property, but then pay a fixed targeted rate of $1.05 per 1,000 litres if they exceed their property’s allowance.

If the proposed residential targeted rate is adopted by Council as part of its 2020-21 Draft Annual Plan, households will be charged on the same basis and rate as commercial users, with an annual threshold of 333,000 litres (915 litres per day).

“The excess targeted rate would only impact those properties that use more than their allowance and more than 333,000 litres a year,” Ms Beaumont explains.

“For example, if you’re a household that pays its rates for a water allowance of 275,000 litres a year and you use 295,000 litres in a year, you wouldn’t be charged extra because you haven’t used more than 333,000 litres.

“But if you’re a household that pays its rates for a water allowance of 425,000 litres a year and you use 450,000 litres, you’d be charged extra because you’ve used more than the allowance you’ve paid for, plus you’re already over the 333,000-litre limit.

“You would be charged an extra $1.05 per 1,000 litres, so your total charge for 25,000 extra litres would be $26.25.”

Ms Beaumont says some properties would be exempted from the excess charges.

“If you’re part of a big family and your water use isn’t excessive based on the number of people living in your house, then you wouldn’t be charged extra. Likewise, if your high water use is for medical purposes, you wouldn’t be charged.”

Ms Beaumont says properties with a lower capital value would not be unfairly affected by the proposal.

“All properties, regardless of their capital value, get a minimum daily water allowance of 698 litres. This is already much higher than the average daily household use of 540 litres, so a smaller household would need to be using vast amounts of water every day to trigger the charge, which is really unlikely.”

A property with a higher capital value and a higher water allowance (already above 333,000 litres a year) would be charged $1.05 as soon as it went over its annual allowance by 1,000 litres.

“The charges we’re proposing are only targeted at the very high water users. The top 20 per cent of households are using more than half of the water we supply to households across the city. We think it’s fair that they help with the cost of supplying them with extra water.’’

* You can have your say on the proposed excess water use charge as part of the public consultation on the updated Draft Annual Plan. The consultation period ends at 5pm on 29 June.