Photo of Upper Nihotupu Dam taken on 2nd April 2020.
A severe drought continues to bite Auckland with the Hūnua and Waitakere Ranges – home to the city’s water storage dams – receiving around 65 per cent less rainfall than normal since the start of the year. As a result, the total volume of water stored in these dams has fallen to 53 per cent. This is lower than this time last year (71 per cent) as well as the average for this time of year (78 per cent).
Watercare's chief executive Raveen Jaduram is asking the community to think carefully before turning their taps on: “We’re experiencing a severe drought. So while we encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly, we ask that people limit their outdoor water use. Washing your car and water blasting the house is not essential right now.”
Earlier this week, we received a four-week weather forecast from the MetService saying the overall outlook is for drier-than-normal conditions.
“We are expecting some rain next week, which is extremely welcome,” says Jaduram. “However, a day or two of rain is not enough to break a drought. We need sustained rainfall over several weeks for our water storage dams to replenish. Hopefully that will arrive in May or June. In the meantime, we all need to do our bit to reduce our water use.”
Operationally, we have been working to reduce the impact of the drought on our water storage dams. We've been doing this by maximising production at our Waikato and Onehunga treatment plants, which draw water from a river and aquifer. This means there is less demand on the dams.
Publicly, we've been running a ‘water is precious’ campaign since the start of February to encourage people to use water wisely. Jaduram says, Aucklanders have been responding very positively to the campaign: “When we started the campaign, the extremely hot and dry weather was causing water demand to skyrocket. Some days the city was devouring 565 million litres. Since then, the combined impact of the campaign and the COVID-19 lockdown has seen demand fall by around 80 million litres a day. That’s a great result – one we can be really pleased about – but it’s possible to do even better.”
Our advice to Aucklanders is simple:
- Keep washing your hands regularly.
- Keep your showers short: 4-minutes or less.
- Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when they’re full.
- Limit your outdoor water use:
- Don’t wash the car
- Don’t water blast the house or driveway.
We don't intend to implement formal water restrictions at this stage but will not rule them out in the future if water demand goes up.
“Aucklanders have proven they’re excellent at being water efficient – we’re just asking the community to be even more mindful and to cut back a lot outdoors.
“With many people spending their days at home, its tempting to tackle outdoor chores and run the hose all day. We ask that you don’t wash your car or water blast the house. Please hold off until we’ve had several weeks of rainfall."
For water saving tips please visit www.waterforlife.org.nz