Why is Auckland’s water supply strained?
Since the start of 2020, the region has received significantly less rainfall than normal. This is having a big impact on our water supply. On 15 April 2020, the total volume of water stored in our dams dropped below 50 per cent for the first time in more than 25 years. We need to preserve what’s left.
When were restrictions introduced?
Saturday 16 May 2020
Who was responsible for introducing restrictions?
Auckland Council introduced them and we are enforcing them
Who do the restrictions apply to?
All properties connected to Auckland’s metropolitan water supply network
Click here to view the metropolitan water supply map
Who is exempt from restrictions?
- The restrictions do not apply to the rural townships of Waiuku, Helensville, Bombay, Murawai, Snells Algies, Wellsford and Warkworth because they have local water sources.
- The restrictions do not apply if you are using non-potable/untreated water and are therefore not connected to the metropolitan supply network.
How long will restrictions be in place?
Until further notice
It rained recently, is that the end of the drought?
No. We need significant rainfall over several weeks to have any impact on our water stores
Why are you implementing water restrictions in winter?
Around New Zealand, many communities have water restrictions in summer to reduce ‘peak’ demand. This is when communities may want to use more water than their local treatment plants can produce. We have enough capacity at our treatment plants to meet ‘peak’ demand and therefore we do not need to restrict use in summer. However, we are experiencing a severe drought and we don’t know how long it will last. Therefore, we need to implement water restrictions to ensure we make the best-use of the water we have left in our dams – until the drought breaks.
Why haven’t you found new water sources over the past 20 years?
We have been staying ahead of population growth by expanding our Waikato Water Treatment Plant. We have secured new water sources for our rural communities. For example, we secured a bore and built a water treatment plant in Warkworth.
Can Watercare build a new dam?
This winter (2020), our focus is on bringing two former water sources – Hays Creek Dam in Papakura and a bore in Pukekohe – back into service. This requires us to build temporary water treatment plants and connect these to the existing water network.
Why can't Watercare just take more water from the Waikato River?
We are already drawing as much water as we can from the Waikato River – up to 175 million litres a day. If we did not have the Waikato River, our water supply would be critically low. In 2013, we applied to the Waikato Regional Council to draw more water. Under the Resource Management Act, the Council is required to review applications in the order they are received. Currently, there are more than 100 applications ahead of ours. Before we applied, we examined 76 water supply options and found that increasing our take from the Waikato River is the most viable large-scale solution. This will require us to build a second water treatment plant in Tuakau and a second water pipe to the city.
We've increased our take of Waikato River water but by how much?
When the Waikato Water Treatment Plant first opened in 2002, it was able to produce up to 50 million litres a day. Since then, it has been expanded seven times, increasing its capacity to 75 million litres a day, 90 million litres a day, 110 million litres a day, 125 million litres a day, 150 million litres a day, 165 million litres a day and now 175 million litres a day. Check out our Waikato infographic for more information on the consents.
When Auckland began receiving water from the Waikato River, you said the city would never have water supply or drought issues again. What happened?
We said the Waikato Water Treatment Plant would ensure Auckland never runs out of water. That still holds true. Over the past 12 months, it has typically provided more than 30 per cent of the city’s water.
Can you start expanding the Waikato Water Treatment Plant and installing the new pipeline while you wait to receive the consent from the Waikato Regional Council?
The treatment plant expansion and pipeline will cost over $100 million. As a responsible organisation, we need to know – with certainty – that our application will be approved before committing to this level of investment.
Work on stage one of the new Waikato A Water Treatment Plant at Tuakau is under way and the project is on track to produce up to an extra 50 million litres of water per day from the Waikato River by the end of June 2021, making Auckland’s water supply more resilient. Construction of the plant has been brought forward by about five years as part of our drought response. Click here to find out more.
What is Watercare's plan for the ongoing supply of water to the Auckland region?
Our water strategy outlines our infrastructure planning over the next 20 years.
If I have a question related to the drought or water restrictions, who do I contact?
Please email your enquiry to [email protected]