top

Water meters: the "third rail" of council politics


Hamilton’s longest-serving councillor Dave Macpherson was first elected in 1998 and has been campaigning against water meters for at least a decade. This week he took to Facebook to decry water meters. Again.

No vote is scheduled to bring them in, but Waikato Regional Councillors unwisely decided to bring the matter up in front of Macpherson at a meeting between Hamilton City Council and the regional council.

"I've had city-based regional councillors -- they have four city seats on that -- contact me after and say 'we weren't the ones supporting that note. It was the rural ones, not us'," Macpherson said.

"They're aware of what an issue it is in Hamilton," he said.

Macpherson has fought two election campaigns to stop bringing in water meters in Hamilton. That included one, in 2016, where he campaigned with a 'no water meters' party affiliation beside his name on the ballot paper.

Hamilton’s longest-serving councillor Dave Macpherson was first elected in 1998 and has been campaigning against water meters for at least a decade. This week he took to Facebook to decry water meters. Again.

No vote is scheduled to bring them in, but Waikato Regional Councillors unwisely decided to bring the matter up in front of Macpherson at a meeting between Hamilton City Council and the regional council.

"I've had city-based regional councillors -- they have four city seats on that -- contact me after and say 'we weren't the ones supporting that note. It was the rural ones, not us'," Macpherson said.

"They're aware of what an issue it is in Hamilton," he said.

Macpherson has fought two election campaigns to stop bringing in water meters in Hamilton. That included one, in 2016, where he campaigned with a 'no water meters' party affiliation beside his name on the ballot paper.

A watery patchwork

He credited the stance for thousands of extra votes that rocketed him from being the lowest polling councillor at the election before to the third-highest polling in 2016. He lost those votes at the most recent local government election when water meters wasn't an issue.

"I've been elected eight times now and that's the only time I've had 'No water meters' beside my name...I've never been the top-polling candidate but that time [there] was a significant jump," Macpherson said.

Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin don't have meters, but Auckland, Christchurch and Tauranga do. Auckland's Watercare charges $1.52 per 1,000 litres for fresh water and $2.62 per 1,000 litres for waste water, while Tauranga charges $2.14 per thousand litres of fresh water. Christchurch has meters, but doesn't charge per 1,000 litres.

Statistics from Water New Zealand for 2018 also show Hamiltonians use 40 percent more water per capita than Aucklanders do: 224 litres per day vs 160 litres per day.

He credited the stance for thousands of extra votes that rocketed him from being the lowest polling councillor at the election before to the third-highest polling in 2016. He lost those votes at the most recent local government election when water meters wasn't an issue.

"I've been elected eight times now and that's the only time I've had 'No water meters' beside my name...I've never been the top-polling candidate but that time [there] was a significant jump," Macpherson said.

Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin don't have meters, but Auckland, Christchurch and Tauranga do. Auckland's Watercare charges $1.52 per 1,000 litres for fresh water and $2.62 per 1,000 litres for waste water, while Tauranga charges $2.14 per thousand litres of fresh water. Christchurch has meters, but doesn't charge per 1,000 litres.

Statistics from Water New Zealand for 2018 also show Hamiltonians use 40 percent more water per capita than Aucklanders do: 224 litres per day vs 160 litres per day.

Read more.