Wellington Scoop

Saving water with meters


by Norma McCallum
‘Be so good they can’t ignore you’, said actor Steve Martin. Well, it seems as if the same might be said of the Kapiti District’s once controversial water meters.

As the rest of the region looks at running out of water, the Kapiti Coast water meters are saving the day. Since the installation in 2014 of 23,000 meters, amid outrage and tears, peak water consumption has dropped by 25%. And in conjunction with the new Waikanae River recharge scheme, there will be enough water to manage the worst dry spells.

Before the meters were installed, bore water was often the drink of non-choice – with high mineral content blowing up electric jugs and water cylinders, according to the naysayers. And the foul taste did nothing for the whiskey and water mob. So, bits between their teeth, councillors voted for water meters.

Within weeks of installation, the level of water loss had been tackled; one leak had been wasting 430,000 litres per day. Try and goal to the water meter team. Silence on the part of the naysayers. Another 30,000 litre a day leak found on one private property was identified and fixed.

Water has always had a value – try living in a country where women travel hours to get clean water for their families. Now we know in Kapiti how much we use and – as in our society a monetary value is usually all – we are being more careful. Our community has a better understanding of water use and many have changed their behaviour.

I have a tiny much mulched garden. I cut up all my garden rubbish and use that. I water rarely, having in the interest of self preservation and in the face of back complaints, planted anything which can survive with little care and not much water. My collection of succulents is second to none in our street.

Good luck, Wellington. Don’t worry about the lawns, they will soon green up at the first shower and your back will thank you for cutting down on the mowing. There’s always a rainbow…

Norma McCallum has lived on the Kapiti Coast for 30 years, also in Central Africa (think women walking for hours to find clean water) and riverless Bermuda where water is cherished.


  1. Neil Douglas, 9. December 2017, 18:37

    Norma, You are so right! There is no such thing as a free lunch in economics. Everything has a price, even the glass of water you have with your ‘free lunch’.

    So if you put a small charge on water per litre taken out of the tap, people would economise and the probability of shortages would reduce to near zero. General rates could then be reduced. Your idea is a ‘no brainer’

  2. Morris Oxford, 11. December 2017, 7:38

    What nonsense! More vulnerable, expensive and ugly paraphernalia!

  3. Iona Pannett, 11. December 2017, 10:20

    Ok to have a debate but the WCC has taken a strong line on this and said no to meters in the past. Conservation needed but meters aren’t the way. [via twitter]

  4. Citizen Joe, 12. December 2017, 12:26

    What is the point of ‘a debate’ if the WCC has already decided that conservation is needed but that water meters are not? All a debate would achieve is another WCC consultation exercise to keep consultants, bureaucrats and councilors ‘engaged’ with the public.
    Water metering will cut back on wastage. With the increase in population forecast for Wellington, introducing metering is a way of managing demand and funding extra capacity.

  5. Michael, 12. December 2017, 14:40

    So it sounds as though the water savings in Kapiti were more to do with fixing the leaks than installing water meters. Perhaps this is what Wellington should be concentrating on first and then let’s see.

  6. greenwelly, 12. December 2017, 15:55

    @Michael, the ability to find leaks is hugely improved when you have a total of how much water is being used at the end of the pipes, which you can then compare to the inputs at various points.

  7. Citizen Joe, 12. December 2017, 22:23

    Michael & Greenwelly – the biggest ‘leaks’ are the people filling up their swimming pool and washing their car(s) twice a week. Meters would make both profligates think again.

  8. Michael, 13. December 2017, 9:34

    @greenwelly: It is a very expensive exercise (and transfer of responsibilities) to use water meters to prove how much water is leaking out of Wellington’s old and tired infrastructure. For example there was a leaking pipe bubbling away in Lambton Quay for weeks!! There are plenty of other tried and proven ways councils can track water leaks in their pipes.
    I will accept we need water meters only when the council “walks the talk” and secures the infrastructure, as anything else just means the council can cop out of its responsibilities. Otherwise why do we pay rates?