John Elliott: The ultimate local body frustration

It’s always difficult to find anything out by phoning the Council. The person you want is either out or in a meeting, yet there are several thousand bureaucrats being paid huge salaries by long-suffering ratepayers.

I won’t give you the whole sorry saga, but suffice to say, Watercare told me they are not responsible for consents for urban water tanks - Auckland Council is.

The council operator who answered the phone could not find out who to put me through to, and asked me to hold. She came back and told me it is the building department I needed. However, no-one was available so she gave me the direct dial number. No-one answered over the next two hours I phoned it.

I had heard an announcement by Mayor Goff that resource consent charges ($1500 I think) had been cut to encourage people to put tanks in their back yards. Sensible, I thought. Water has been pouring down from the sky unused by the bucket load. Surely Council should encourage ratepayers to install a tank to save millions more dollars sucking up Waikato River water.

Not so easy says the Council website. You need to fill in a 14 page application form and send it to council. Council will then tell you whether you need a resource consent, a building consent, or neither. That 14 pager requires plans, photos, aerial no less (do I have to hire a drone?), neighbours consent, sizes, height, width, position etc etc etc.

So I phoned several tank companies. I quickly learned all three had disparaging comments to make about ‘bureauocracy’, and all told me if I had no intention of hooking up to toilet, clotheswasher etc, but just wanted to be able to water my few vegetables and wash my car when summer without water from Watercare hits us — just do it and keep completely clear of the council. "They’ll find some way to charge you if you go near them," one company told me.

What a shame. First we have incredible incompetence by successive councils, then after a massive hit by Covid-19 which was not the council’s fault, we face another couple of hundred million dollars more to keep our taps running.

As the council CCOs ignore the elected councillors, and Covid costs have escalated, councillors are crying it’s not our fault. It may not be the current councillor’s fault but it is their predecessors lack of forethought.

Unfortunately, somewhat like governments councils act in three-year cycles, rarely thinking further than their own noses - or future.

For goodness sake, let God pour water into home tanks to help the situation, without ridiculous bureaucratic interference, and cost. (John Elliott)

#watertank #rainwater #waikatoriver #goff #resourceconsent