Extended dry weather prompts calls to be waterwise

01 July 2019
We are encouraging Aucklanders to use water wisely this winter in case the dry weather that is affecting much of New Zealand continues.
 
The Hūnua and Waitākere ranges– where we have 9 water storage dams – received 34 per cent and 44 per cent less rainfall than normal for the January to June period. As a consequence, the city’s total water storage is 59.2 per cent, which is 25 per cent less than normal for this time of year.

Mangatangi Dam in the Hunua Ranges.
The spillway and valve tower are visible at Mangatangi Dam in the Hūnua Ranges.
 
Watercare head of water value, Roseline Klein, says that while Auckland’s total water storage is less than normal, the city benefits from having a range of water sources including dam, river and aquifer sources.
 
“We are closely monitoring the dry weather situation and we are carefully balancing our water sources,” says Klein. “At the moment, we are maximising production from our river and aquifer sources to reduce demand on our dams.”
 
The Hūnua and Waitākere ranges are not the only areas to be hit by the dry weather. MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths says many rain gauges in the Auckland region have observed their driest January to June period on record.
 
“Auckland Airport recorded 321mm of rain in the first 6 months of this year, only 62 per cent of its usual January-to-June tally (514mm),” says Griffiths. “The highs have been unusually frequent over northern New Zealand during the last 6 months, and have been quite effective at keeping the rain makers out.”

Total water storage
 
The prolonged dry weather is also having an impact on demand. Some of Auckland’s fringe suburbs as well as rural areas to the north have houses with rain tanks rather than municipal supply. These residents rely on water tanker operators to fill their tanks when they run dry and Klein says demand from water tanker filling stations has risen sharply.
 
“The volume of water supplied to water tanker operators over the first six months of this year is over four times greater than last year. In practical terms, we’ve filled over 19,000 more water tankers,” says Klein. “What this shows is the correlation between the weather and demand.”
 
Over the coming months, we will be running a ‘Waterwise winter’ campaign.
 
“We want everyone to use water wisely and reduce wastage of this precious resource,” says Klein. “This will help our dams to recover over the winter months, ahead of summer 2020.”
 
One of the easiest ways to reduce wastage is to find and fix leaks. We can also arrange free water audits for residential customers which help people to understand how their household can reduce consumption and save money on water bills at the same time.
 
“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. That’s enough to fill more than seven Olympic pools!” says Klein.
 
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.