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Mahere Tōtika ā-Wai

Water Efficiency Plan

As Auckland grows and our climate changes, using water wisely is critical to maintain our high service standards and support a healthy environment.

Our challenge and plan

The Water Efficiency Plan is how we’re responding to the challenges created by Auckland’s growth and changing environment. It sets targets for more efficient water use, identifies ways we’re conserving water and educating our customers, and how our customers and community partners are getting involved so we can all make sure Auckland’s water system is sustainable for the future.

Opportunities and pressures from Auckland’s growth

Auckland is growing, with the population predicted to rise from the current 1.7 million to 2 million by early in the 2030s. It remains New Zealand’s largest manufacturing base contributing 40 per cent of NZ GDP, and construction continues to be a key driver of the economy. Every year, developers apply for 9,000 new residential water network connections.

It’s the heart of New Zealand’s food and beverage (F&B) industry, with two thirds of the country’s top 50 F&B manufacturers based in Auckland. Those businesses are reliant on clean water to operate and represent 25 per cent of our top hundred largest water users.

The food and beverage industry is backed by a strong national brand that presents New Zealand’s products as safe, high quality and trustworthy. F&B manufacturing accounts for 46 per cent of New Zealand’s total annual exports, and estimates state NZ F&B processing could triple over the next 15 years.

While the economic potential is significant, we need to grow the industry in a sustainable way, maintaining and improving the quality of our water and environment.

Aerial photo showing a stream flowing through native bush.

Te Mana o te Wai

As New Zealanders, we respect the mana of our freshwater: Te Mana o te Wai. It guides how we manage freshwater in New Zealand and underpins our plan. Preserving drinking water through a water efficiency plan is important to sustain and improve our water management system.

As Auckland’s water provider, we’re aligned to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Water is precious in both a spiritual and a physical sense. Kei te ora te wai, kei te ora te whenua, kei te ora te tāngata: When the water is healthy, the land and the people are nourished.

Kaitiaki values directly inform our decisions on new water projects and maintaining existing assets and services. This comes through both the Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum and our internal Watercare kaitiaki team.

Strategy and commitments

The Auckland region is committed to adapting water supply and management to meet the demands of a changing climate and growing city. These commitments have been formalised and then guided the creation of the Auckland water strategy. Our Water Efficiency Plan outlines the actions we’re taking to make a more sustainable water system the reality.

Auckland Council’s commitment
WSAA and Watercare’s commitment
Te Rautaki Wai ki Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland Water Strategy

2025 Target: 253 litres per person per day

2023 Progress: 241 litres per person per day

Graph showing water consumption per capita vs water consumption targets.

Our water use targets

Our current gross per capita consumption is 241 litres per person per day, aiming for 253 litres per person per day by 2025.

While we’re pleased to be ahead of target as of 2023, this was helped by recent major events including drought, COVID and floods. We invested more than usual in education during the drought which helped lower water use. Now the drought has finished we need to continue to do our best to use water wisely.

This target is a key part of our Water Efficiency Plan. The plan marks the final stage of our commitment to the Auckland Three Waters Strategic Plan (2008), which requires Auckland to reduce its gross per capita consumption 15 per cent by 2025 (from 2004 levels).

Unlike previous water efficiency plans, this one has a different purpose. Rather than seeking to achieve our water efficiency target to defer investment in a new source (the key focus of the previous updates), we instead want Aucklanders and the environment to thrive.

If we can use and reuse water wisely while reducing wastage, we can achieve this. We’re also measuring water use from specific customer groups and areas of risk and opportunity (i.e. leaks) so we can make better decisions on where to focus our efforts.

Business targets

Learn how we’re helping our business customers reduce water use.

Food and beverage manufacturing
Auckland Council

Residential target

Our plan is to use residential consumption per connection to measure water efficiency over time. This is much more accurate than measuring the total population.

We know how many households are connected to our network, but we don’t know how many visitors use our water or how many people are leaving, arriving or staying in Auckland at any given time. Our aim is to reduce residential consumption from 510 litres per dwelling per day (our current rate of consumption in FY21) to 481 litres per dwelling per day in 2025.

Graph showing water consumption by different industries.

Non-revenue water

Like other water utilities across the world, we produce more water than our customers require. This non-revenue water consists of:

  • leakage in the network
  • water used for cleaning mains and fighting fires
  • theft and other illegal connections
  • meter under-reading.

Our aim is to maintain our non-revenue water at or below 186 litres per connection per day by 2025. As most loss occurs through network leaks, we’re investing in new leak detection services and managing pressure across the network. Based on an extensive trial over 500km of pipeline, we estimate a cost of $111 million over five years to reach the non-revenue target (this cost includes renewals, which are required to ensure that pipes do not continue to break when they are fixed due to age).

Ways we’re saving water

Our goal is to work with Auckland to co-design, develop and implement smart solutions to make our water go further. We looked at a wide range of options to improve water efficiency. Rather than try to do everything at once, we’ll focus on measures that we can implement quickly, are sustainable over time and are likely to give the biggest benefit.

There are four interconnected areas where we can make the most of our water:

  • Reducing losses
  • Improving oversight from source to tap
  • Optimising pressure in our network
  • Supporting residential, community and business water efficiency

Learn more about how we’re saving water

Reducing losses
Improving oversight from source to tap
Optimising pressure in our network
Residential, community and business water efficiency

Recycled water

We need to consider how we can reduce demand by reusing water in both commercial and residential settings. Non-potable reuse uses treated wastewater for purposes other than drinking water to reduce demand. Typical applications include landscape irrigation, construction, industrial processes, and toilet flushing. Recycling water provides an alternative to existing water supplies and can be used to enhance water security, sustainability, and resilience.

Read more in our FAQs section