Dry spell takes toll on region
Water use soars as supplies dwindling
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.
The Waipa region’s water use has risen to above 100 million litres per week.
The Te Tahi reservoir has dropped to a low level, with no rain in sight for the Waikato region.