During the next term of this Council a decision will need to be made regarding meeting the supply of water to Wellington as demand is expected to match the existing capacity by 2013.
So far the two options being considered are to build a new reservoir at a cost of up to $150m with unquantified ecological costs, or install water meters in order to reduce demand. This has an estimated cost to ratepayers of approximately $80m plus the ongoing costs of userpays. I’m also not convinced that meters are that effective in reducing demand as is evidenced by the fact that we can instantly reduce power demand by 10% during a power crisis while having electricity meters. There is also the social and health implications of the termination of supply due to the failure to pay for supply. The main benefit of meters is an ability to measure actual usage.
Neither of these two options, I believe, really address the main issue. That is the way we use and waste our water. For instance we use only 3% of our water for drinking or cooking while we flush 25-30% of our precious water directly down the toilet. It seems to me that the council should facilitate the installation of rainwater collection tanks for this purpose thereby instantly reducing demand for domectic water by 25-30%. Other benefits include a sizeable reduction of demand on the stormwater system which is also reaching its full capacity, providing an emergency supply of water in the event of natural disaster and bringing a sense of responsibilty and consciousness to the householder regarding water use. A further 20% could be saved by connecting the tank to the outside tap! Other options include the redirecting of greywater for these purposes – further savings could be achieved by doing these two initiatives in tandem.
I believe more creative but commonsense initiatives should be investigated, installing meters and “Think Big schemes” of increasing capacity are old ways of thinking.
I’ve just found this website for the installation of water tanks and greywater systems here in NZ, check it out at www.newwater.co.nz this is the way of the future! and it’s here now, like solar water heating these systems should be installed as a matter of course in all new buildings- but it will take some leadership from Councils.