Eight fold variation in water charges – depending on where you live

15 March 2022

Water New Zealand’s latest performance benchmarking tool, the National Performance Review, has found that there are huge variations in what New Zealanders are being charged for water services depending on where in the country they live.

The NPR’s author, Water New Zealand’s insights and sustainability advisor, Lesley Smith says that the average New Zealand residential property paid $960 for water and wastewater services in the 2020/21 fiscal year which she says is less than half the average electricity bill of $2,110 per year.

“However in the regions with the highest water service charges, the average was $2,237 per year. That would take a worker on the minimum wage nearly three weeks’ work, or 131 hours, to pay.

She says that the purpose of the NPR is to provide accurate and reliable information about three waters services so that councils and their communities can make sound investment decisions.

"This is about enabling an informed conversation about the choices communities face over the quality and cost of providing drinking, waste and stormwater water services."

She says there are also huge differences in charges for wastewater services alone. The highest average regional wastewater charge in the 2020/21 fiscal year was $1,205 - more than eight times higher than the lowest at $140 per year.

Water charges are levied by councils in a variety of ways, either directly through rates or through a separate water meter charge based on the amount of water used.

More than half of Aotearoa New Zealand’s residential properties, including all of Auckland, now have a water meter in place.

However, outside of Auckland, most New Zealand householders do not receive a separate water bill and drinking, waste and stormwater services are funded through a combination of fixed, or targeted rates, and general charges.

“This means that it's not immediately obvious to many New Zealanders what they are paying for their water services”

She encourages all New Zealanders to take an interest in their water bill.

“It is only with this information that you can decide if the level of service you are getting is value for money.”

Information on water, wastewater and stormwater charges and performance of services in your district is available from our NPR dashboard

National Performance Review Water charging