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Source: Auckland Council

A recommendation by Watercare to lift Auckland’s outdoor water restrictions will be considered by the Auckland Council’s governing body at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday this week [21 October].

The restrictions – which currently prevent the use of sprinklers but allow hoses fitted with trigger nozzles – have been in place since 16 May 2020 in response to the region’s record-breaking drought.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says he will be advocating for the restrictions to be lifted, which if approved, will take place on Saturday, 23 October.

“After a prolonged run of drought and drier-than-normal weather for over two years, we’ve finally had a good boost in rainfall since September that has seen dam levels rise by over 30 percentage points from 60 per cent in July to 91 per cent full today,” he says.

“With dam levels back to normal, there is now a sufficient level of certainty that we can lift restrictions without having to reverse that decision in the near future.

“I want to thank Aucklanders for their outstanding effort to reduce their water use over the past 17 months. We’ve saved a colossal amount of water – more than 20 billion litres. And we have developed good water saving habits we want to keep up. This both saves the consumer money and helps our environment.

“At the same time, we have supported Watercare to deliver over 100 million litres a day more supply by the first quarter in 2022, to ensure that water supply is guaranteed to be able to meet both population growth and drought. This includes the construction of three new water treatment plants. Combined with the work on the network to reduce leakage which has saved 9 million litres a day, this has strengthened the resilience of our water supply.”

Watercare chair Margaret Devlin says with its recommendation, the Council-controlled organisation has provided Auckland councillors and Mayor Goff with comprehensive information to guide their decision-making including the long-range weather forecast, consumption data, network efficiency information and production volumes at treatment plants.

“At this stage forecasters are predicting slightly wetter-than-normal conditions for summer. Our modelling, based on conservative calculations, gives us confidence that it’s highly unlikely we’d need to impose further restrictions later in summer. 

Watercare will continue to invest in the resilience of the network, both on the supply and demand side.”

She says restrictions have served the city well over the past 17 months, particularly over last summer when usage was significantly down on the previous year. She encourages Aucklanders to maintain their water-wise ways.

“Collectively, Aucklanders are using on average 36 million litres less each day than they were in 2019 (based on the rolling 12-month average).

“I know our residential and commercial customers are contributing to this impressive reduction – so thank you for doing your bit. Your savings, together with our work to bring on new water supplies and of course the recent heavy rain, has all helped to get us to the point where we can recommend restrictions be lifted.”

Watercare liaison councillor Linda Cooper thanks Aucklanders for their efforts to save water.

“Aucklanders have made a collective effort to reduce water use and council and Watercare have worked hard to increase water supply and resilience,” she says.

“Now we’re seeing the benefits through dam levels getting back to normal, meaning we have room to lift restrictions heading into summer.

“Thank you to everyone for saving and water and please keep up the good work.”

MIL OSI