Households that regularly use much more water than the average will soon pay extra for their water supply.

How the new rate will work

The targeted rate will apply to any single household with a water meter that uses, on average, more than 700 litres a day – roughly equivalent to 100 toilet flushes.

Property owners in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula will pay a fixed rate of $1.35 for every 1000 litres they use over the average limit.

Most households are average water users and won’t use enough to receive an invoice.

We'll read your water meter and invoice you for any excess water use on a quarterly basis (roughly every 90 days). Meter reads cannot be requested.

Generally, the property owner, or the same person who receives the property's rates invoice, will also receive the excess water supply invoice.

There won't be a reduction in rates for households that use less water than the excess limit, and no rebates or discounts will apply under any circumstances.

The main reason is to help reduce the extreme demand on our water supply network at certain times, particularly over summer.

If we can do this, it means we won't have to spend as much money upgrading and building new infrastructure to cope with the extreme demand. 

When other parts of the country have put in place similar charges they’ve seen a reduction in water use of 20 to 30 per cent.

The average annual water use for households in Christchurch is 540 litres per day. This is already significantly higher than the household average for other major New Zealand cities.

We arrived at 700 litres per day based on the latest Census data, including average household water use and the average number of occupants per household in Christchurch.

We're not sending out excess water use bills if they’re $25 or less because it doesn't make sense to send out invoices for very small amounts of money. A bill of $25 equates to the water consumption of about 900 litres a day over a 90-day period. Once a bill goes above $25 for a 90-day period the bill will be for all usage above the 700 litre per day limit.

This gives us all a bit of wiggle room while we get used to the new rate and make changes to reduce our water use.


700 litres multiplied by the number of days since your last meter reading equals your excess water supply limit.

If your water use since your last meter reading is greater than your excess water supply limit, you may receive an invoice.


A property's water meter was last read 95 days ago.

Using the formula above, 700 litres multiplied by 95 gives us a limit of 66,500 litres for the period.

The property's latest meter reading shows it has used 100,000 litres in those 95 days.

100,000 litres is 33,500 litres more than the limit.

The rate is $1.35 for every 1000 litres used over the limit.

So 33,500 extra litres is equal to 33 multiplied by $1.35, a total charge of $44.55.

The first bills for excess water use will be sent between January and March 2023. These will cover excess water use in the period between your first and second quarterly water meter readings after 1 October, which is when excess charges come into effect.

Bills for excess water use will be sent out quarterly, and unlike rates they won’t come at the same time each quarter. We’ll send you a bill after we’ve carried out your quarterly meter reading. 

Your household might only be a high user during warmer months as a result of outdoor water use - for example filling pools, gardening, and irrigation. If this is the case, you will only receive a bill for periods when your average use is more than 700 litres a day.

Check your latest recorded water use by using our Water Reporter(external link).

You can also email or call us on 03 941 8999 (0800 800 169) and we can confirm your water usage. 

Water meter accuracy

Water meters are built to remain accurate for many years, and the data we’ve collected from thousands of meters over the years supports this. As they age, they tend to slightly under-read, not over-read. This means that if you have an older water meter and you trigger the Excess Water Supply Targeted Rate, you’re likely paying for less water use rather than more. 

The Council isn’t required to regularly test or calibrate water meters, but you can request a calibration of your meter if you believe it isn’t accurate. If we test the meter but find it’s still accurate, then you must cover the cost of the calibration testing. If we test and find the meter is not accurate, then we will cover the costs of the testing and the repair or replacement of the meter.

Querying a meter reading

If you believe your latest quarterly meter reading is incorrect:

  • Take a photo of your water meter so that it clearly shows the serial number and current reading
  • Email the photo, along with your address, to
  • We'll get back to you within five working days.

Learn how to read your water meter and check for leaks(external link)

If a leak is discovered on your property, it’s up to you to get this fixed as soon as possible. We are only responsible for the pipes and fittings up to your property’s boundary.

Leak in the road?

Use our Snap Send Solve app(external link) to report it, or contact us(external link).

We know there are some reasons households might have high water use.

If any of these circumstances apply, you might be eligible for remission from 1 October 2022:

  • Unexpected high use due to a leak, upon proof the leak has been repaired promptly.
  • Families with nine members or more who are using water responsibly. 
  • Personal circumstances such as medical conditions.

More information about the process for applying for remission will be available closer to October 2022.

Who is responsible for paying excess water bills in tenanted properties? 

The property owner, or the person who receives the property’s rates bill, will also receive the excess water supply bill. The landlord must pay the bill and can then ask the tenant to reimburse them.

If high water use is due to a leak, it’s the owner’s responsibility to get it fixed and apply for remission.

Landlords should let their tenants know they have a responsibility to be good water users and will need to pay for excess water use.

Visit the Government's Tenancy Services website(external link) for information about tenants and their water use.

How do I manage excess water bills when tenants have changed in the middle of a billing period?

At the beginning and end of each tenancy, it is a good idea to agree with your tenant/landlord on how to do the first and final readings of the water meter.

This ensures each person pays only for the water they use. It is the landlord’s responsibility to manage this.

Where multiple households are served by a single water meter, we won’t invoice them until separate meters can be installed, unless there is a special agreement in place specifying which household/ratepayer is responsible for payment. 

Households sharing a water meter are generally low to average water users because the majority are smaller properties within multi-unit developments with very compact or shared gardens.

Farm irrigators and water-bottling plants aren’t connected to the Council’s water supply network, they have their own water supplies, so they won’t be affected by the Excess Water Supply Targeted Rate.