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New source . . . Recent work to upgrade the Oxford Rural No. 1 Scheme with a new, deeper bore. Photo: Supplied

By DAVID HILL

The Waimakariri District Council is considering sharing the burden among ratepayers of funding the ultraviolet (UV) treatment of water supplies.

The council, as part of its annual plan consultation, will ask residents to consider a proposed uniform charge across all of the district’s drinking-water supplies to fund UV disinfection treatment to meet national drinking water standards.

This is proposed instead of charging separately for each scheme. The uniform charge will not apply to ratepayers who are not on a council water supply.

“It spreads the burden and it makes a relatively small difference to larger communities like Rangiora and Kaiapoi, but for those on the small rural schemes it will make a big difference,” Mayor David Ayers says. “It’s a new move for the council to be treating all ratepayers on water supplies equally.

“Normally, ratepayers are charged for their own local water supply, meaning the burden is greater for those who live in sparsely populated rural areas.”

The alternative is the status quo, in which each scheme funds its own upgrades, with the costs recovered through rates targeting ratepayers on each of the schemes.

Mandeville and Waikuku supplies have already received UV treatment, but these residents will be included should the proposal be accepted, with rates adjusted accordingly, Mr Ayers says.

The council’s finance and business support manager Jeff Millward and
utilities and roading manager Gerard Cleary, in a report last month, says it is
expected drinking water standards will change after Havelock North’s water woes.

Anticipating this, the council included provision of $7.8 million for installation of UV disinfection in last year’s Long Term Plan, but noted the impact on rates on supplies in sparsely populated rural areas would be major under the existing rating structure.

The council is engaging with ratepayers in the Garrymere and Poyntzs Road
communities about their supply upgrades.

“The anticipated costs of the upgrades are significant and having alternate funding options, other than the status quo, will assist discussion about providing afford able potable drinking water that will continue to meet current drinking water standards,” Mr Cleary says.
Mr Ayers says UV adds water security but does not affect taste.

“But there is a small risk of contamination and so the council continually monitors and tests water supplies.”

While the council is reluctant, in line with public opinion, to chlorinate urban
supplies, Mr Ayers says it remains ready to switch on chlorination in emergencies.