Horizons records and processes a range of information about water in our region, and this data feeds into research which helps to understand trends, and track progress and risk over time. One way we do this is via Horizons’ water metering project, which has been monitoring water metering activity at sites across the region since 2003.

The water metering project has now evolved to meet the requirements of the Ministry for the Environment’s National Environmental Standard for water abstraction. The regulations apply to holders of water consents who take five litres of water per second or more. Takes of 20 litres per second or more have been required since September 2022 to measure their water use every 15 minutes, store their records, and electronically submit their records to their regional council every day. Takes of 10 litres per second or more will need to meet these requirements by September 2024 and takes of 5 litres per second or more will need to meet the requirements by September 2026. Where it is a condition of consent that is more stringent than the regulations, consent holders must meet those conditions.

A generic photo of a waterway

Up until this Long-term Plan, the cost of this activity was covered within Horizons’ science budget.

Continuing to fund this programme this way will see a reduction through time of the level of service provided in the science research programme. This would mean less science research to help us understand the region’s freshwater allocation resource and inform future policy development.

With the evolution of the water metering project, we are looking to adjust the funding model to cover the cost of monitoring approximately 800 locations across 594 consents within our region. Horizons proposes a 100% user pays funding model of a flat fee per consented meter location/data-set. This brings this service into line with all our other consent monitoring charges. We believe that this is a more cost effective option than comparable private sector options elsewhere in New Zealand.

The flat fee of $750 per meter location/data-set, shown below as Option 1, will cover all activities relating to water use metering validation visits, fault repairs, telemetry and data management, asset depreciation, website and live data access for consent holder connections, along with Central Government annual data supply and reporting. By setting a flat fee, Horizons can budget a total of $445,000 for this activity, and recover the cost of this activity from the users of the resource rather than the wider community.

If Horizons does not charge 100% user pays, the funding of $445,000 will be required to come from the Horizons science budget which is shown as Option 2. However, this funding is only partially provided for within the 2024-25 science budget and as additional sites are required to be telemetered alternative funding (such as increasing rates) or a reduction the level of service provided across the science programme would be required to adjust for the shortfall.

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