Is Water Care Services an Oxymoron?

Our water bill has shot up in recent times, we had a leak repaired in November and it settled down to its new high, but January went nuts to the level of a 6 person household. Ours is 3. We couldn’t understand why, but it hurt, especially on top of the new increases in water fees on the North Shore in Auckland. Last week we finally discovered a new leak right by the water mains and on 8 February we called Water Care Services. 

Ware Leak

Ware Leak

The call center staff were very friendly and said it would probably take 3 working days for someone to come and check it out. While we were waiting for this visit a lot of water went down the drain. A neighbor had a similar problem and Water Care sent them a contractor to check out the problem.

On The 13th I rang again and asked what was happening. They put me on hold, came back and said I was in a priority queue. I was pleased that something was happening. I asked if the contractor could ring when they were coming and I was put on hold again and she said that was fine, they would ring when they were on the way. I told her I was working from home on the 14th, so that would be great. I had a plumber booked for the 14th in case the problem was on our side.

No one came to our house on the 14th, but a Water Care contractor went to a similar problem about 4 doors down the road. My next door neighbor asked them if they could have a look at my problem while they were there. He said he would look into it. He didn’t. I postponed the plumber.

I rang the Water Care call center again on the 14th  and they explained that the contractor couldn’t look at our place because he didn’t have access to the works order for it. She said someone would be there before 11 on the 15th and they would call before coming as requested.

I worked from home again on the 15th, wanting to be there when the contractor came. At around 11:30 I went to the letter box, the area around the meter box was very muddy and water was coming out of the mains box in much greater volume than before. In the letter box was a note from a company called Lend Lease saying “SUSPECT YOU HAVE A PRIVATE LEAK”

I contacted the plumber who is unavailable for another 3 days and now we walk backwards and forwards to the water main, turning it on and off as required. The plumber said to us that there appear to be many instances in the area of higher pressure in the pipes (due to increasing water supply capacity works for the new Long Bay subdivisions and other growth in the area) causing leaks.

So a couple of questions for you and Water Care. How is it that you can send 3 contractors to the same street in the same street in different instances and you don’t have the technology in the 21st century to identify that there are other jobs that could be done at the same time? Sending a van out from wherever and back 3 times must be quite expensive (a bit like my water bill). If that happens 3 times in one week, just in my street, how much extra does it cost. Calls like mine to the call center which had local sounding people (which must be pretty big, because I never spoke to the same person twice), Maybe half an hour of time. Calls from them to contractors, another 15 minutes. Processing multiple works orders, maybe 20 minutes. 3 trips from vans to my street, with driving time, probably an hour each. That’s a lot of ratepayers money. It’s also a lot of wasted water, are the dams overflowing after this dry summer, that we can afford to waste it?

Does Water Care Services have sustainability KPI’s?

I’m starting to understand why Water Care charges so much. I know they have a geospatial database, one would assume they have a good CRM. Hopefully they will give me a rebate on the excess water for January and February, which I can apply to the plumber’s bill. I’m looking forward to having him fix the problem in a couple of days time.

I am wondering if other people have had similar experiences? Please feel free to leave a comment. By the way I am not a whingeing stirrer, I give credit where it is due to, for example my recent blog about AA Insurance, who provided me with fantastic service after someone dinged my car in a car park and took off. The thing is, I am a ratepayer, I am paying massive amounts of money for water and waste-water and I suspect that with better management or systems, I could be paying a whole lot less.



Don’t Run the Red!

I can’t believe the number of people who run red lights in Auckland. On Friday I thought I might keep a list for a week of all the people I witness driving through red lights at intersections. I had to give up because there were way too many. In 1 1/2 business days plus a weekend I have watched more than 30 cars drive through red lights, one of which was a young woman (I’m being polite) who only just missed plowing into me. I could just about count the freckles on her face and see the colour of her eyes as she looked at me as she drove past.

There is a horrendous TV advertisement showing a dark Stephen Kingtype carny guy spinning a Lotto style Winning Wheel at an intersection and a shot of a car driving straight through the driver door of another car at an intersection as the wheel stops on ‘Death’. Several people have commented on how scary the advertisement is, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping people from doing this. Just 5 minutes ago on my way back to the office, I stopped at an orange light and about 4 seconds after I stopped an Armourguard van sped past me on the outside lane just missing traffic on their way through a red light. 2 seconds later and it would have been a major accident involving at least 3 cars who wouldn’t have had a hope of seeing him. I was so shocked I forgot to get his registration number.

On the 2nd of January this year (a public holiday when you wouldn’t expect city traffic to be in a hurry) in one intersection in Auckland City 418 vehicles ran the red light! I’m sure Tristram Ave and the Constellation Off Ramp on the Northern Motorway would rival that. This morning while waiting to get through that intersection 2 lots of 4 cars blocked the main highway by driving into the intersection when there was nowehere for their cars to go.

Another report said that in a 20 day trial in Auckland of 10 intersections, there were 341,000 incidents of red light running. It went on to say that over 5 years from 2000 to 2005 in Auckland city there were 399 crashes due to people running red lights! How can so many people be so thick. It doesn’t matter how you rationalise it, it is like playing Russian Roulette. People may be in a hurry, late for an appointment, busy texting and don’t look at the signal in time, personally I don’t care what the reason is, there is none that is acceptable yet people do it in their thousands, every day.

This isn’t new and it isn’t limited to Auckland as some would like to think, but given that probably half of the nations cars are in Auckland, there will be more. But in a study in Dunedin in 2004, a 3rd of crashes at traffic light controlled intersections involved people driving through red lights.

There are lots of studies around the world on this subject by transport authorities, by councils, by insurance organisations including those that support red light cameras and those against. The thing is, if people used common sense, this situation wouldn’t occur in the first place.

The chances are that somewhere in Auckland today, someone will be seriously hurt or injured because someone drive through a red light. The same will happen tomorrow. How would you feel if the victim was your child, your mum or your dad? How would you feel facing the victim’s family in court and how would you feel for the rest of your life if you were the driver who was in a bit of a hurry?

There is no excuse, no reason, it can have terrible consequences and yet thousands of people within 10km of where I sit writing this will be doing it in the next 2 hours! Stop and think people. The next victim could be someone you know and love.

Red Light Cameras in Auckland

Just a quick comment. I get so angry at the many people who run the red lights. We see and read so many stories about accidents involving innocent people who have the misfortune to be in the right place at the wrong time with people who seem to be in a real hurry to get to the hospital.

Auckland City who previously said that red light cameras were too expensive, have decided to install them after doing some surveys with safety cameras finding that the numbers of people doing this are in the thousands each day. I hope other cities including North Shore follow suit especially at busy intersections like Tristram Ave.

Offenders will pay a $150 instant fine and there are suggestions of giving them demerit points as well, which I would be fine with. Something needs to be done to stop them and there is no good reason for anyone to risk their and others safety in this way. So often I sit behind someone who runs the red and then when all the lights have cycled, I drive through and end up sitting behind them at the next set of lights.

TV3 did a good job of producing a news video and obviously didn’t have to wait long to prove the point.

I’d like them to introduce a program like the old dob in a smokey, reporting cars spewing smoke from their exhausts, so we can all police this problem. They tried this for a short time last year and it worked well, wish they would do it again.