Dry spell takes toll on re­gion

Wa­ter use soars as sup­plies dwin­dling

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Row­land

As wa­ter catch­ments con­tinue to empty in the sum­mer heat, parts of the Waikato have moved to out­door wa­ter bans in an at­tempt to con­serve sup­plies with not a drop of rain in sight in the short term.

Res­i­dents of Te Awa­mutu and Piron­gia are banned from us­ing wa­ter out­doors as the Te Tahi reser­voir level con­tin­ues to fall and Hamil­ton res­i­dents have been told to stop all use of garden sprin­klers with much of the re­gion strug­gling from over two months with­out sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall.

Both Cam­bridge and Ki­hik­ihi have also moved to wa­ter alert level one, mean­ing re­stricted use of sprin­klers, with Waipa¯ District Council deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive, Ken Mor­ris say­ing res­i­dents must be wary of wa­ter use with tougher re­stric­tions ex­pected.

“The last sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall was over six weeks ago in De­cem­ber and with no rain on the hori­zon for Waipa¯ , all res­i­dents need to be con­scious of their wa­ter us­age to en­sure we can make it through the sum­mer with­out run­ning out,” Mr Mor­ris said.

“Cam­bridge and Ki­hik­ihi are on a sep­a­rate wa­ter sup­ply to Te Awa­mutu, Ohaupo and Piron­gia but with wa­ter tankers be­ing used to fill up at the Cam­bridge sup­ply, we need re­duced de­mand on the whole wa­ter net­work,” Mor­ris said.

“There is a com­plete sprin­kler ban across Te Awa­mutu, Ohaupo and Piron­gia. Hand­held hos­ing is still OK but we ask that this is kept to a min­i­mum.

A new town wa­ter sup­ply is un­der con­struc­tion for the Te Awa­mutu ar­eas but with a com­ple­tion date of mid-2021, res­i­dents can ex­pect pres­sure on the stream for one more sum­mer.

“Once the new sup­ply is up and run­ning, we can’t stop think­ing about how we use wa­ter. Wa­ter is a pre­cious, fi­nite re­source and we need to treat it as such,” Mr Mor­ris said.

Hamil­ton wa­ters man­ager Marie Porter says the city is also slash­ing its own wa­ter use af­ter mov­ing last week to alert level three.

“The council is look­ing at ev­ery as­pect of how our or­gan­i­sa­tion uses wa­ter as the hot, dry weather con­tin­ues,” Ms Porter said.

Foun­tains have been turned off, the Parana Park wa­ter fea­ture will not be re­filled, road­side and me­dian strip plant­ings have had wa­ter­ing re­duced or halted, wash­ing of build­ings and bus stops has stopped and sched­uled clean­ing of fleet ve­hi­cles has been de­ferred.

But Ms Porter said main­tain­ing city as­sets worth hun­dreds of mil­lions means sav­ing wa­ter is not as sim­ple as turn­ing off the taps.

“En­sur­ing our parks and sports fields are playable in fu­ture months means we have to un­der­stand how we can achieve this with the least use of wa­ter. We also use wet­ting agents to hold mois­ture longer and have care­fully-planned ir­ri­ga­tion net­works to min­imise wa­ter use. Our parks teams are planning months ahead to be able to cater to the thou­sands of young Hamil­to­ni­ans look­ing for­ward to their win­ter sports.”

“We’re cut­ting wa­ter­ing to our me­dian strips and traf­fic is­lands but this can lead to dust is­sues at in­ter­sec­tions as the plants die off and the ground dries. We’re min­imis­ing wa­ter us­age for street clean­ing, but we can’t just stop it com­pletely. Even with ve­hi­cle wash­ing, we still need to en­sure we don’t cre­ate safety is­sues by hav­ing lights or in­di­ca­tors ob­scured by mud or dust.”

The en­tire North Is­land and most of the South is now in ei­ther a Pro­hib­ited or Re­stricted fire sea­son af­ter Welling­ton de­clared a re­stricted sea­son ef­fec­tive 8am

In the Waikato no fire of any de­scrip­tion may be lit in the open air.

Dry weather has af­fected wa­ter sup­plies across the North Is­land, with the

Gov­ern­ment declar­ing this week a drought for all re­gions north of Auck­land’s Harbour Bridge.

Im­age / Smart Wa­ter

The Waipa re­gion’s wa­ter use has risen to above 100 mil­lion litres per week.

Photo / Sup­plied

The Te Tahi reser­voir has dropped to a low level, with no rain in sight for the Waikato re­gion.

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