11 Feb 2020

Auckland water shortage brings out good samaritans

1:17 pm on 11 February 2020

Good Samaritans are dishing out water from their mains supplies as the upper North Island continues to suffer from a severe meteorological drought.

Garden tap leaking, dripping, water.

Photo: 123RF

Outdoor water bans have been imposed in parts of Northland, while Aucklanders are being urged to cut their shower times, as the city struggles to cope with the rate water is being consumed.

High temperatures are driving the demand and the city has broken its consumption record twice since the start of February.

Last Tuesday, Aucklanders used 561 million litres of water, significantly more than the average daily usage of 440 million litres last year, according to Watercare.

Orewa local Mitch Boocock has been sharing his mains supply with residents on tank water on the Hibiscus Coast.

He said people are under immense stress as they desperately need water for washing, drinking and showering, so he's been delivering containers to them and letting them into his home.

"One person for example is a young mum with a new born whose milk is drying up because she's dehydrated herself and trying to ration herself, so in some cases its very bad," he said.

Residents on tank water say there is up to a four week waiting list for water and they may not get deliveries until March.

Boocock said this means he's busy responding to calls for help every day.

"I'm just about to top my 100th delivery, I think I did 30 on Sunday.

"I was posting (online) and saying to other people in the community 'I know these guys are strangers, but can you offer the same sort of thing'. I'm going to keep going until mother nature takes over and I don't need to do it anymore."

Further north, Kaikohe and Kaitaia are on outdoor water bans - the highest restriction possible.

Northland Mayor John Carter said conditions are the worst he has seen in a long time.

"People are struggling to make sure that they keep themselves going (with enough water) and the farmers with their stock, it's definitely harsher than what we normally have."

Carter said the local prison, freezing works and the timber mill are all looking for ways to source their own water.

There is also a meeting for schools on Wednesday to see how they can cut down on water usage.

Meanwhile, farmers are being forced to get rid of stock, either at auction or sending animals to the meat works early.

Northland Federated Farmers president John Blackwell said the government must take action and declare an official drought.

"The crops that we've planted in the spring haven't grown as well, or certainly haven't recovered, so that production is lost production," he said.

Blazes are also a concern for farmers and Fire and Emergency - who are urging Northland residents to take the fire ban in place since the start of the year seriously.

Since the ban, crews across the Far North have been constantly fighting fires.

Agriculture minister Damien O'Connor, told RNZ he is monitoring the situation in Northland closely and primary sector representatives tell him they're generally prepared.

The Northland Primary Sector Adverse Events Group is meeting again next week to discuss the dry conditions.

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