Water Quantity Charges FAQ

Keeping track of the flow and quality of the rivers and reservoirs in a Region the size of ours is a big job and costs about $3.8 million a year.  Under our current funding policy, 70% of our science and research costs are shared between all ratepayers in the Region.  The remaining 30% is covered by consent holders using the resource.

This work involves:

  • measuring river flows;
  • groundwater levels and rainfall; and
  • using this information to report, manage, analyse and support decisions that are made about this valuable resource.

Consent holders are charged based on the type of resource consent held and the quantity of extraction or discharge. A fixed administration fee is also incurred for surface and groundwater takes ($30 plus $0.38 per cubic metre consented as a maximum daily take).

1.      How much of the research am I funding?

The total annual science and research cost to Horizons, including charges for fixed equipment, computer software, laboratory costs, staffing and research agency fees is $3.4 million.  30% of this cost is funded by consent holders through the research charges, with the balance being funded through the General Rate.

2.      How often is this research charged?

The charge is levied each year unless the consent is cancelled, or expires, or is transferred.

3.      To what period does my invoice refer, and how often are invoices sent?

Your invoice refers to 12 month period 1 July 2013 - 30 June 2014. These invoices are issued annually, midway through the invoiced period (around January/February each year).

4.      How are the charges calculated?

All holders of permits for surface and groundwater takes are charged at a rate of $30 fixed fee, plus $0.36 per cubic metre authorised maximum daily (not annual) water take (as documented in the consent).  NOTE:  Charges are GST excluded.

5.      You have based my charges on the maximum authorised daily water take, as outlined in my resource consent, however I do not take water to my maximum allowance

The terms of your current consent ensure that your right for the full water take amount is reserved.  All such charges are based on the maximum authorised daily allowance regardless of the actual volume that the consent holder may choose to take.  You may wish to consider varying your consent to a lower consented volume in order to reduce these research charges in the future.  This would require a variation to your consent.

6.      I never use my water take so why are you charging me?

As the holder of a current resource consent, you have established the right to take your specified volume of water.  Council policy stipulates that all such charges are based on the maximum authorised daily allowance, regardless of the actual volume that the consent holder chooses to take.  If you wish to give up your right to take water, you have the option of surrendering your resource consent, in which case future research charges would not apply.  However, if you then choose to resume taking water in the future, you would have to go through the consent application process again.

7.      How much have my charges changed since last year?

The fixed fee has remained at $30 while the per cubic metre charge has fallen from 38 cents to 36 cents.  In addition, some hydro scheme charges have been adjusted.

8.      Why do I have to pay?

Council has determined that consent holders receive some private benefit from the research that is carried out.

The individual compliance fee (separately charged) covers the costs of monitoring a holder’s individual consent.

The research charges contribute towards the costs incurred by Horizons in researching and identifying the cumulative impact on our environment of all such activities across our region.  Information gained from this research can also be used by applicants during the resource consent application process.

This research is essential for our many regional organisations, farms and other industries, all of which are dependant on this information. Further, the findings enable us to continue to provide communities and users with ongoing services, including water for recreational use, clean drinking water and a safe habitat for native fish. 

By maintaining and further developing knowledge of our region’s natural resources, the interests of the consent holder, the needs of the wider regional community and the resource itself are all protected.

9.           How can I have my say regarding these charges? 

Research charges are determined by Horizons Regional Council’s elected Councillors following a public consultation process.

You can make submissions on Horizons' Draft Annual Plan during the consultation process in April each year, and during the three-yearly Long-Term Council Community Plan consultation process.  For further information on how to get involved please contact Ed Duggan (Horizons Strategic Financial Planner) on 0508 800 800.   

10.    What do I get for my money?

Water quantity, surface and groundwater resources are managed to ensure there is an adequate supply for consent holders, the wider community and for aquatic wildlife.

By researching the effects of all current resource consents, including your own, the Council is able to ensure that such consents can be effectively maintained, whilst sustainably managing the environment both now and for the future. 

11.    What about those people who benefit from this research but are not charged this fee?

All ratepayers, both rural and residential, contribute a total of 70% to these research charges through the general rating system.

12.    Why isn’t this fee also being charged to my neighbour?

If you believe that your neighbour should also be liable for this charge, please provide full details and we will investigate this matter.

13.     Who can I contact for more information?

For all further enquiries please contact our customer services team during normal business hours on toll free 0508 800 800 or email help@horizons.govt.nz