Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 14/02/2020 2:45 p.m.
If Whangārei residents can reduce their water consumption by 20 per cent they might keep the District’s water restrictions away for a few weeks yet.
Whangarei District Council’s Water Services Manager Andrew Venmore said restrictions had not been imposed yet this year because the Council had kept the dam levels over 70 per cent full by using other water sources.
“After the 2009/10 drought we installed a much bigger pipe to the Hatea River. As a result of this, and a range of other works, we were able to use the river water and avoid using the dam.
“As a result we have been able to manage our water supply without introducing restrictions this summer – but the time is coming when they will be needed.
“No rain has come and the Whau Valley Dam is now starting to drop at a rate of about 5% per week. We need to slow that rate of consumption so the supply can last into the wet weather.”
He said the outlook for the coming autumn was for dry weather, without any sustained period of rain to top up aquifers, ground water or the dam.
“A bit of rain will let us switch back to the river intake and ease the demand on the dam for a short while, but we want people to cut their daily water use down by about a fifth, voluntarily.
“We do anticipate a restriction on hose and sprinkler use (Level Two Restrictions) quite soon and billboards are going up along roadsides today telling people to save water now. We are continuing with our radio and newspaper advertising (which has been going since 24 january), and sending letters to residents in our most seriously affected areas.”
Mr Venmore said the domestic supply accounts for 70% of the water use in the District every day.
“Twenty per cent should be achievable by taking short sharp showers rather than the long lingering sort. Watering the garden by hand (not leaving a hose running unattended or using a sprinkler), reducing the number of loads of laundry or dishwashing by a fifth and letting the car get dusty – all of these measures make a real difference.
“We will be posting the results of people’s efforts on our Website every week and if we can achieve 20% quite quickly we may be able to delay reaching the 60% point in the dam, which is when restrictions come in.”
Mr Venmore said sensible water use would become the “new normal” as Whangārei’s climate becomes increasingly dry over the years to come.
“Given the kind of weather we have had this year we are in a very good situation compared to our neighbours, Far North and Kaipara. We will help them if they need water, but we will also need to save water for ourselves.
“Helping out the Far North and Kaipara will cost us less than half a percent of our daily water intake – we use the other 99.5% here, in our own District. We have water so we have a responsibility to make it last as long as we can. If others need it we have a responsibility to help them.”
Mr Venmore said hints on water saving were available on the Be Water Wise website.