Nick Smith,
Minister of
Environment, New
Zealand
 
Wellington, New Zealand --- (METERING.COM) --- November 11, 2010 - New regulations came into effect in New Zealand yesterday regarding metering of water takes of more than 5 litres a second.

Under the Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010, all new water takes of more than 5 litres a second are required to be metered. Existing takes of more than 20 litres a second must be metered within two years (by 10 November 2012), those more than 10 litres a second must be metered with four years (10 November 2014) and all takes more than 5 litres a second must be metered within six years (10 November 2016).

“We can't manage what we don't measure,” commented Environment Minister Nick Smith. “We know that over the past decade we have doubled the amount of water that can be legally taken from our rivers, lakes and aquifers to 450 million cubic metres per week. That is 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools every minute. We also know we are reaching resource limits in significant areas. We need to know how much water is actually taken and when if we are to properly manage New Zealand's hugely valuable freshwater resource."

The regulations are expected to affect approximately 11,000 water take consents, and will increase the measurement of allocated water from only 31 percent currently to 92 percent in 2012, 96 percent in 2014 and 98 percent in 2016.

The remaining 2 percent is taken by 39 percent of consents, including households and stock water, but requiring such small takes to be metered could not be justified nationally, according to Minister Smith in a statement.

The Environment ministry estimates that the total cost of the water meters is NZ$40 million (US$31.5 million), with meter costs ranging from $2800 to $9600 depending on their size.

This cost is well justified noting that water contributes more than $5 billion a year to New Zealand's economy and only a small gain in efficiency of use will offset the cost of metering, said the statement.

Minister Smith also said the government is providing $90,000 to Irrigation New Zealand to develop guidance about water meters, verification and installation to irrigators so as to ensure the smooth implementation of the new regulations.

For its part while welcoming the regulations, Irrigation New Zealand expressed the concern that meeting the timeframes would be a significant logistical challenge if irrigators don’t keep on the ball.

“We just hope there will be some discretion in terms of meeting compliance timeframes, as given the number of water meters to be installed it’s looking pretty tight,” said the organization’s chief executive, Andrew Curtis.

Irrigation New Zealand’s water meter service provider accreditation program has approved around 50 providers to date.