This page contains a summary of the response to the Summer 2019-2020 dry weather, what Council is doing about it and what locals can do to save water.
14/02/2020 3:23 p.m.
Reduce water use by 20% to delay restrictions
Be Water Wise Website
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.”
“We are running a joint advertising campaign to remind residents and visitors to use water consciously, with water saving front of mind.
“The long weekends in summer often bring huge numbers of holiday makers to our District. They may come from places that don't have water issues, so it is up to us as residents to show and tell them how to behave regarding water here.”
Mr Venmore said Whangarei District Council had been in touch with the major water users in our District to inform them of the situation and ask for extra vigilance regarding water use.
“We have also looked at our own operations in an effort to reduce any unnecessary water use. We have stepped up monitoring for leaks, and want to hear from anyone who knows of a leak from a water main.
Signs to look for are:
“We have also improved the efficiency of the watering systems in our District’s gardens to reduce waste and are keeping a close eye on this.
Mr Venmore said decades of planning ahead meant Whangarei was in a better situation this summer than some areas were.
“Whau Valley dam has been our main source of water for the city area for many years, supplemented by water from Poroti Springs, Maunu Springs and the Hatea River.
In 2010/2011 we invested $1.2 million to increase the capacity of half of the Hatea River pipeline. We plan to upgrade the rest this year.
We are continuing to work in advance of potential future water shortages by building a new water treatment plant at Whau Valley this year, and we have plans on the books to establish a pipeline to the Wairua river in 2026."
Top 6 smart water conservation tips
Wait until you have a full load before you turn on the dishwasher or washing machine.
Turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth.
Keep a jug of drinking water in the fridge and keep it topped up. If you run the tap long enough for water to cool down it can waste 10 litres a minute.
Apply the ‘step test’ to the lawn – if grass springs back after you walk on it, it doesn’t need watering.
If your toilet has a dual-flush button, use the half flush and think twice about whether you really need to flush.
Let the car go dusty – let it show what a conscious water conserver you are.