Water extraction in Refreshment Place

Published on 28 June 2019

Refreshment Place

Information is circulating in the community regarding a resource consent to extract aquifer water from a bore in Refreshment Place Upper Hutt. A Change.org petition is now underway requesting that the consent be revoked.

This release is intended to provide information that might help to address some of the comments.

Local Council and Regional Council

Upper Hutt City Council is responsible for the city’s ‘reticulated’ water supply. This is the water that is supplied to homes and businesses through the network of reservoirs and pipes throughout the city. It is within Upper Hutt City Council’s jurisdiction to create bylaws, rules, consents, and permission around how we use the water that comes out of these pipes into our homes and businesses. For example, it is Upper Hutt City Council’s bylaw that sets garden watering restrictions in place all year round.

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) has jurisdiction over bulk water collection, treatment, and supply, and access to the underground aquifer through bores. GWRC provides resource consents for extraction and use of water from the aquifer (as in this case).

Reticulated and non-reticulated water usage

Some members of the public have raised concerns of fairness around a consent to extract ‘large’ amounts of water from the aquifer while they remain under garden watering restrictions all year round. This demonstrates the difference between the use of supply water at home, and the use of untreated water accessed from the aquifer.

Water supply to homes and businesses costs money. This includes maintaining the reservoirs and pipe network throughout the city as well as the bulk water—collected, treated, and supplied by GWRC for the region’s overall use. So Upper Hutt City Council imposes garden-watering restrictions to reduce bulk supply costs. These restrictions are also imposed in order to conserve water (a significant portion of this supply is taken from the Hutt River).

The costs of private access and use of untreated water are met by the consent holder and not the councils (nor rate payers).

Upper Hutt City Council’s position

In this case, Upper Hutt City Council has no authority over the consent allowing the consent holder to extract water from the aquifer. Notwithstanding that, given the level of community interest in this matter we will continue to monitor this issue.