The big dry continued through July with the Hunua Ranges – home to Auckland’s four largest water supply dams – receiving significantly less rainfall than normal.
Head of water value Roseline Klein says only 163mm of rain fell in the Hunua Ranges, compared with a historical average of 210mm for the month.
“We’re simply not receiving enough rainfall this winter to replenish our dams after the record-breaking dry summer and autumn.
“By the end of the month, our total water storage level was only 65.6 per cent compared with a historical average of 88.1 per cent for this time of year. And this time last year, our dams were practically full.”
Klein says that with only one month left this winter, August would need to be extremely wet for the water supply situation to return to normal.
“At Watercare, we talk about the cumulative rainfall deficit – that’s the gap between actual rainfall and the historical average. The deficits in the Hunua and Waitakere ranges are now 324mm and 328mm respectively. To make up for those shortfalls, August would need to be at least twice as wet as normal.”
Unfortunately, we are not expecting significant rainfall in August. “MetService and NIWA has forecast normal conditions for August and drier than normal conditions for the rest of the year,” says Klein.
Currently, Klein is unable to say what the total water storage level will be going into summer or if water restrictions will be necessary in future.
“We can’t control the rain but we can control how we manage our water sources. At the moment, we are maximising production from our river and aquifer sources to reduce demand on our dams.
“We’re also encouraging Aucklanders to be mindful of their water use,” says Klein.
“We want people to know that while their individual actions might feel small, they are one of 1.5 million Aucklanders contributing to the city’s water consumption every day. If everyone reduced their shower time by a minute, our city would use 18 million litres less water every day.
“Watercare offers customers a free water audit service which helps them to understand their water use, reduce wastage and save money on their bills. To sign up, they just need to call us on 09 442 2222.”
Mayor Phil Goff says that Aucklanders are in this together: “We all have a role to play in reducing the volume of water being wasted – residents, schools, clubs and businesses alike. Over the coming months, I’d like to see us responding to this challenging dry weather together by substantially cutting our water consumption.”
Five top tips for being waterwise:
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Try to shower for four minutes or less.
- Check to make sure your toilet cistern isn’t leaking. Put a few drops of food colouring in the cistern. If colouring ends up in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
- Wash full loads of laundry whenever possible. This will save water and energy.
- When hand-washing dishes, fill the sink rather than washing the dishes under a running tap.
Aucklanders used 2.5 per cent less water in July than the previous month.