Photo: Lower Huia Dam in the Waitakere Ranges (April 2020)
A survey of 500 Aucklanders has found that 97 per cent believe it’s important to save water right now. As a company, we are welcoming this as a great outcome for the city at a time when we're calling for people to urgently reduce their water use in response to the severe drought gripping the region.
Last week, the total volume of water stored in the region’s dams dropped below the halfway mark for the first time in more than 25 years. Today, the total water storage is 48 per cent. This is lower than this time last year (66 per cent) and well below the average for this time of year (76 per cent).
Our chief executive Raveen Jaduram says it is heartening to know that Aucklanders understand the importance of saving water right now and the areas where we can all make good gains.
“We’ve been asking our community to think about their water use and minimise wastage of this precious resource for months now,” says Jaduram. “This survey result shows Aucklanders have been listening and are on board with what needs to be done. But now is the time for us all to really tighten our belts and make every drop of water count.”
Jaduram’s comments come in response to an updated weather forecast from the MetService indicating the drought will persist over the coming weeks: “Since the start of the year, we’ve received less than half (47%) the usual rainfall in our water catchment areas. So to receive yet another dry forecast is very concerning.”
Jaduram says that with little rain on the way, everyone must do their bit.
“We live in a city with 1.7 million people. That means that if every person saves what they can, together we will save a lot.
“While we encourage everyone to keep washing their hands, we ask that you do not wash your cars, water blast your houses or hose your lawns.”
The survey of 500 Aucklanders asked people what they believed everyone should be doing to help the city’s water supply. The number one response was taking shorter showers – a result we were hoping for as we encourage Aucklanders to take up the four-minute shower challenge.
“For most households, the shower guzzles the most water – around 27 per cent of total use. While it uses a lot of water if left unchecked, it’s also an easy place where all of us can make a big contribution to year-round water savings.
“We know that most people spend around eight minutes in the shower. If you cut back to four minutes – plenty of time, even if you wash your hair – the region will save around 80 million litres a day. That’s a phenomenal amount and it only requires a little effort by everyone,” says Jaduram.
With the total water storage dropping below 50 per cent, a trigger point has been reached whereby we can consider mandatory water restrictions. Jaduram says restrictions have not been practical so far but he acknowledges that if the rain doesn’t arrive soon, they will be implemented.
“Water restrictions are not a black and white science – several variables come into play.
“With the COVID-19 lockdown, we are very aware of the new demands everyone is facing and we do not want to add to these. We also acknowledge that it’s not possible to enforce restrictions while meeting physical distancing requirements. Instead we need everyone to keep on focussing on water savings, particularly as we move on from lockdown.
“Very positively though, Auckland’s current water usage – admittedly under lockdown conditions – is low enough that at the moment we are achieving sufficient [short term] savings through voluntary means. The challenge for the community, and for businesses, is to remain mindful of water use as we emerge from the lockdown.”
Call to action for Aucklanders:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Take short showers
- Run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full.
- Water your lawn
- Clean your car
- Water blast your house.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said that, after the lowest rainfall on record in January and February, and lake levels dropping below 50 per cent, the city needs to increase efforts to save water.
“Despite nine months of maximising our draw on water from the Waikato, our lakes are 28 per cent below the normal level for this time of the year,” he said.
“Saving water now means we can get through the period ahead with less severe restrictions if we have another drier than normal winter.
“Please don’t wash your cars, use water blasters or hose down the lawn during this time, and try to keep showers to under four minutes. It’s really important that everyone does their bit.”
About the survey
Over the weekend (19-20 April), a representative sample of 500 Aucklanders who are connected to Watercare’s networks were asked three questions regarding the region’s water supply situation.
|What do you believe is the water situation in Auckland right now?
|There is a plentiful water supply for all households
|There is a sufficient amount of water for all households
|Auckland is in a drought and the city’s water supply is under pressure
|How important is it for Aucklanders to be water conscious and save water right now?
|Not very important
|Not at all important
|What do you believe Aucklanders should be doing to improve water levels right now?
|Stop watering the garden
|Stop washing building and windows (including house)
|Stop washing vehicles and boats
|Completely filling the washing machine before use
|Completely filling your dishwasher before use
|Use a frontloader washing machine
|Other (please specify)
|Nothing, the winter rain will fix the situation