For the first time in many years, communities in many parts of Waikato have had a summer free from water restrictions, despite it being as hot and dry as ever.
This is thanks to a new insights-based, collaborative approach to manage demand in the Waikato District.
Traditionally Waikato District Council, Hamilton City Council and Waipa District Council have adopted the same, one-size approach for managing demand during summer – restrictions on sprinklers and outdoor water use.
But when Watercare, who manages the drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services the Waikato District suggested a more customised approach based on local supply capacity, Council grabbed the opportunity to improve the service they provide to its communities.
Watercare Operations manager for the Waikato Contract, Mat Telfer, says: “Unlike Auckland which has a largely integrated supply network, communities in Waikato are serviced by local plants which may draw from local streams or the Waikato River with specific consent allocation.”
Watercare recommended that it would be better to look at individual supply zones’ production capacity and local consumption rather than a blanket seasonal approach.
The new trigger has been set at 80 per cent of production capacity – so when plants hit 80 per cent of their capacity to treat water, restrictions can be put in place to reduce demand.
The Watercare team reviews the demand daily against a three-day average, and provides weekly consumption data for seven supply zones (Huntly and Ngaruawahia, Raglan and Te Akau, Te Kauwhata, Onewhero and Port Waikato) to Council so it is aware of the supply situation and can make timely decisions.
It is easy for residents to become accustomed to restrictions every summer and often, as a result, restrictions can lose some of their perceived importance and effectiveness. This approach, which is much more targeted, aims to provide more transparency on how Council manages supply and demand and treat our resources more carefully.
To support this approach, Council has also been focusing a campaign on water conservation, rather than reduction, sharing tips on how to #bewaterwise.
This is a simple but great example of Council achieving more through partnering with Watercare.