On 7 May 2020, Auckland Council agreed to impose mandatory water restrictions in Auckland that will limit outdoor water use. These restrictions took effect on 16 May 2020 and are in place until further notice.
The restrictions apply to everyone who uses water from the Auckland metropolitan network.
Watercare has given Waikato District Council formal notice under the Bulk Water Agreement and has said these restrictions must also be in place for Pokeno and Tuakau as they receive water from the metropolitan network.
Please look on the Watercare water restrictions page for more information or check the FAQs below.
Commercial and other non-domestic water users can’t:
• Use an outdoor hose or water blaster unless it is for a health, safety, emergency or biosecurity reason
• Operate a car wash unless it uses recycled water
• Water sports fields, plants or paddocks unless they have an irrigation system that is fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors.
We understand the restrictions will have a bigger impact on commercial and other non-domestic water users than on residential water users. And we know it comes at a very difficult time for businesses, given the challenges of COVID-19.
Auckland is experiencing a severe drought that is on track to be the worst in living memory.
Since the start of the year, Auckland has received only 34 per cent of its usual rainfall. As a result, the total volume of water stored in Auckland’s dams has been steadily declining from 89 per cent full in November 2019 to 46.5 per cent.
You can watch recent drone footage of the Waitakere dams. We all need to work together to preserve the remaining water in the dams in case the winter rain doesn’t arrive.
Most of the time, water restrictions are imposed by councils in summer to manage ‘peak’ demand. This is when a community’s demand for water is greater than the capacity of their local treatment plant.
In Auckland, there is not a treatment plant capacity issue – it’s a rainfall shortage issue. The water supply situation was stable in summer, when sunny days and high demand was normal. However, with the drought continuing into May, the water supply situation has become stressed. Recently, a trigger point was reached in the drought management plan that signalled restrictions were necessary.
A seasonal forecast from the MetService suggests we will receive relatively normal rainfall over winter, followed by a dry spring.
While recent rain was welcomed, it only lifted the total dam storage level from 45.8 per cent to 46.5 per cent full and bought just a few days relief. What is needed is significant and sustained rainfall to replenish the dams.
Watercare has been maximising production at their Waikato and Onehunga water treatment plants. Together, they are delivering up to 170 million litres of water a day. Without these vital plants, Auckland would be out of water by now.
Watercare is often asked about the Waikato Water Treatment Plant and why they don’t draw more water from the river. The answer is that they have been expanding the plant step-by-step to stay ahead of population growth. When it was first built in 2002, it produced 50 million litres of water a day. Since then, there have been five upgrades so that it can now produce 150 million litres a day.
Watercare is now working on the next expansion – another 25 million litres a day – which they expect to have up and running in three months’ time.
Also by spring, they expect to have brought two former water sources – the Hays Creek Dam in Papakura and a bore in Pukekohe – back into service. This requires us to set up modular water treatment plants and local network connections.
These initiatives will increase the volume of water available to Auckland next summer. But they will not overcome the need for rainfall. That’s because the water supply is stressed because of a drought, not a lack of infrastructure.
How can you help?
Even though you might live in Pokeno and Tuakau, which is in the Waikato district, your water comes from Auckland and therefore the restrictions need to apply to you. Please do everything you can to save water.
It’s important you understand the seriousness of the drought as well as your role in preserving the water supply.
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