14 Feb 2020

Whangārei restricts water use amid drought to help Far North, Kaipara

2:51 pm on 14 February 2020

Whangārei residents are being urged to use less water to prevent restrictions from coming into force for at least a few weeks.

Whangarei's Te Matau a Pohe bascule bridge over Whangarei's lower Hatea River.

Whangarei's Te Matau a Pohe bascule bridge over Whangarei's lower Hatea River. Photo: Northland Advocate / Michael Cunningham

With little rain on the horizon, Whangārei District Council is asking households to conserve water by about a fifth or 20 percent.

So far, the council has been able manage to dam levels by relying on other water sources.

"After the 2009/10 drought we installed a much bigger pipe to the Hatea River," water services manager Andrew Venmore said.

"As a result we have been able to manage our water supply without introducing restrictions this summer - but the time is coming when they will be needed."

Domestic supply accounted for 70 percent of water use in the district every day, he said.

"If we can achieve 20 percent quite quickly, we may be able to delay reaching the 60 percent point in the dam, which is when restrictions come in."

The council said the Whau Valley Dam was now dropping at a rate of about 5 percent each week.

"We need to slow that rate of consumption so the supply can last into the wet weather," Venmore said.

However, it expects level two restrictions on hose and sprinkler use may be enforced soon.

The district was still in a good position compared with the Far North and Kaipara, Venmore said. The council was also willing to pitch in to help them out if necessary.

"We will help them if they need water, but we will also need to save water for ourselves."

"Helping out the Far North and Kaipara will cost us less than half a percent of our daily water intake ... if others need it we have a responsibility to help them."

The council advised people to take short showers, not leave hoses or sprinklers running, and reduce laundry loads and dishwashing cycles.

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