by Ian Anderson
In mid-March 2013, Wellington City Council announced a water crisis. Nigel Wilson, chair of the region’s committee in charge of water supply, stated that Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt Valley had only 20 days of water left. From March 16th, the city announced a ban on outdoor water use by residents, with a $20,000 fine for violating – commercial users faced no restrictions.
This follows a regular pattern whereby the council focuses on curbing residential water usage, whether through attempts at residential metering or outright ban in this case. By implication, the council blames residents for any water shortages.
“Non-commercial” and domestic usage
The council generally estimates “non-commercial” usage at around 350 litres per person per day, around half of usage overall. However, “non-commercial” usage includes Council usage, theft, and leaks. Leaks are unaccounted in bulk purchases; in fact around 20% of water in Wellington is unaccounted, compared to a national average of about 10-15%.
Accurate estimates for domestic consumption can be found not in the council figures, but in the nationwide Quality of Life reports. Most recently, the Quality of Life Report ’07 found Wellington domestic consumption between 2001 and 2007 to be on average 170 litres per person per day, on par with other cities. This is less than half of the Wellington City Council’s estimates for “non-commercial” use.
By conflating various uses and misuses under “non-commercial,” this manipulation of statistics gives the misleading impression that residents consume over half of Wellington’s water. Proportionally, industrial users such as Preston’s Meatworks are the biggest users. Read the rest of this entry »