16 Feb 2019

Gisborne water shortage: Not enough water to fight major fire

6:00 pm on 16 February 2019

If a major fire broke out in Gisborne now, emergency crews wouldn't have enough water to put it out.

Gisborne town centre

Gisborne Town Centre. The city is facing a water shortage as its water reservoirs refill after a broken pipe drained them. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Council was urging people to conserve water while the city's reservoirs refilled after a broken pipe drained them two days ago.

The site of the water leak in Gisborne

Photo: Facebook / Gisborne District Council

Spokesperson Jade Lister-Baty said residents were using over a million litres of water an hour and if the high use continued it would take days to refill the reservoirs.

"Demand for water peaked this morning at 1.2 million litres per hour. The rate had dropped to around 800,000 litres per hour at midday and the supply is keeping up with demand, but at this rate it will take longer than expected to replenish the reservoirs."

On Thursday a faulty valve on the main pipeline at Makaraka broke and the council issued a total outdoor water ban while it was being fixed.

It was repaired yesterday morning but the reservoirs need time to refill.

The council was urging residents to still adhere to the total outdoor water use ban, which means no sprinklers, hoses, washing the car or filling the pool.

Spokesperson Jade Lister-Baty said if there was an event like a major fire, another unexpected pipe break or an earthquake there would not be enough water.

"We ask people to please take action now so no further restrictions have to be put in place."

Restrictions may be lifted by Monday if enough water is saved.