Water alert

More re­stric­tions pos­si­ble

Hamilton News - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Row­land

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil is pre­par­ing to raise its water alert level if res­i­dents don’t cool off on their usage.

Hamil­ton has been on water alert level one since the start of De­cem­ber, which means res­i­dents can only use their sprin­klers dur­ing 6am and 8am, and 6pm and 8pm.

On Tues­day, Niwa me­te­o­rol­o­gists re­leased their three month pre­dic­tions of weather in 2019, with less than av­er­age rain­fall ex­pected for the north side of the North Is­land.

This, com­bined with above av­er­age tem­per­a­tures pre­dicted for the North Is­land, has led coun­cil to an­tic­i­pate higher water usage in the city, with res­i­dents re­turn­ing from their hol­i­days.

City Wa­ters man­ager Maire Porter said the coun­cil has al­ready seen a spike in water usage this week.

“We tra­di­tion­ally see lower lev­els of water usage for the week of Christ­mas, as peo­ple travel out­side the area for hol­i­days, but there is a sig­nif­i­cant spike when peo­ple re­turn.

“We have seen daily water usage in­crease around 14 per cent this week com­pared to last week, and we an­tic­i­pate fur­ther rises in usage as the hot weather con­tin­ues and more peo­ple re­turn from hol­i­days,” Ms Porter said.

“Out­door water use is one of the big driv­ers for water con­sump­tion early in the year and if the hot weather con­tin­ues as fore­cast, and peo­ple don’t con­tinue to be care­ful with how they use water, we could see changes in the alert lev­els.

“There’s 160,000 peo­ple in Hamil­ton — if every­one ran the shower for 30 sec­onds less each day that’s more than a mil­lion litres saved.”

Last year Hamil­ton reached water alert level two, which has house­holds us­ing sprin­klers on al­ter­nat­ing days be­tween 6am and 8am, and 6pm and 8pm.

Ms Porter said the coun­cil de­cides on chang­ing the level based on nu­mer­ous fac­tors.

It took un­til March 2018 for Hamil­ton to be eased com­pletely off water re­stric­tions last year, only drop­ping back to level one dur­ing the mid­dle of Fe­bru­ary.

“These in­clude cur­rent and his­tor­i­cal water usage data, weather fore­cast­ing for the Waikato and Lake Taupo water lev­els.

“The river level changes de­pend­ing on how much water is re­leased from Taupo for the hy­dro-elec­tric sys­tem and only im­pacts our sup­ply of water if it drops below our water in­take struc­ture. Should this hap­pen, we have built a spe­cial float­ing plat­form which can pump water from a deeper part of the river.

“The biggest driver for water alerts is how much we are us­ing, as we have lim­its on how much water we can take from the river and how much water we can sus­tain­ably treat each day at our water treat­ment plant. High qual­ity drink­ing water is a pre­cious re­source, and that’s why we ask peo­ple to be mind­ful about how they use it.”

Last year, coun­cil told Hamil­ton News the growth of Hamil­ton is adding more pres­sure on the city’s water as­sets.

“As Hamil­ton is grow­ing, more and more pres­sure is go­ing on our water as­sets. We need to en­sure we don’t over­in­vest in water treat­ment in­fra­struc­ture for the few months of the year when there is par­tic­u­larly high de­mand.

“At the same time we need to up­grade ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture to make sure that it can keep up with de­mand. We have also been im­prov­ing the re­li­a­bil­ity and sup­ply of water around the city with the new reser­voir in Ro­to­tuna, and an­other one planned for the Ruakura area. The coun­cil’s Long-term In­fra­struc­ture strat­egy iden­ti­fies that a new water treat­ment plant cost­ing in ex­cess of $100 mil­lion will be needed from 2045, and could be re­quired sooner if we don’t con­tinue to man­age our de­mand for water re­spon­si­bly.”

Pho­tos / Tom Row­land

The river level at the Gran­tham Street boat ramp has dropped since the start of sum­mer.

A jetty south of the Whi­tiora Bridge leads into sand, rather than water as Hamil­ton goes through a hot­ter than nor­mal sum­mer.

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