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New Zealand - Water

In New Zealand the water supply is provided by the local council for the vast majority of residents. This is supplied as mains water and usually comes from lakes, rivers or underground collection systems. Some people who live in rural areas will have their own tanks or wells on their property. The property owner is responsible for the maintenance of the storage equipment and any treatment considered necessary for the water. In rural areas owners should be sure that the tank will hold adequate supplies of water in the event of a shortage, although these are not very common.

Some areas of the country, such as Wellington, have restrictions in place on the use of garden hoses and sprinkler systems and these are applied all year round in order to conserve water. The Wellington restrictions are in place and residents can only use this equipment from 6 am to 8 am and 7 pm to 9 pm but on alternate days. Houses with an odd number can use this equipment on odd-numbered days of the month and even house numbers on even days. If you are using a watering can you can water your garden at any time. Each council will post details of water restrictions on their own website.

While the quality of water for drinking in New Zealand is considered to be good, it is recommended that you allow the tap to run for around a cup full of water each morning. This is to reduce the possibility of drinking water that has metals leached into it as the taps are flushed before you begin drinking. The authorities recommend this step even though the risks are minimal to humans. This is due to the fact that tap water in New Zealand is soft.

Many properties in the country now use water meters. These are recommended for those who live on their own as the household only pays for the water it uses rather than a set charge, which can often work out to be more expensive. Meters are being installed in most urban homes and are being used as a way of monitoring consumption and conservation. There is often a charge for installing a meter, but this varies depending upon where the meter is to be located and the size of the meter.

Councils regularly have the water quality tested and the Ministry of Health issued standards for safe drinking water in 2005. Water is tested for a number of potential contaminants such as E.coli and varying levels of chemicals. Each urban area will be divided into regions and water samples are taken from each region. It is very rare that a water sample has tested positive for any of these contaminants although each area has contingency plans in case an issue does arise.

Unless the water has been disconnected from the property that you move into there is very little to do. Living in an urban area means that your local authority is your water provider and they should already have your details. When you first move in you should call them to be sure that they have so that bills can be issued in the right name. If you are moving into a property that has a water meter then it is a good idea to take a meter reading on the day that you move in and make sure that they have this reading as a starting point for your supply. There is very little documentation that you will need to provide to the authority unless they have no record of your details. If you are renting a property you may be asked to provide a copy of your tenancy agreement to show that you have the right to live there.

The cost of a water supply varies from region to region and will depend upon the rates that are set by the council. Most customers choose to pay their bill by direct debit although you can also send a cheque through the post, pay over the counter at a bank or post office using a debit or credit card or pay with cash. Bills can be issued monthly or quarterly but this will depend upon the area you are living in.

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