16 Jun 2020

Watercare uses emergency powers to get extra 15m litres of water per day

6:10 pm on 16 June 2020

Auckland Council's water company Watercare is using emergency powers to pull a further 15 million litres of water day from the Waikato River to combat the area's drought.

A bridge over the Waikato River near Tuakau.

Photo: Unsplash / Jan Kaluza

The city has been dealing with a record-breaking drought - receiving less than half of its normal rainfall since November 2019 - which is having a significant impact on the region's water supply.

Dam levels dropped from about 90 percent full in November to 42 percent full last month.

Dams stood at 44.1 percent full today after two weeks of relatively wet weather. This compared to an average of almost 78 percent full for the time of year.


Auckland's Upper Nihotupu Dam on 18 May. Photo: SIMON RUNTING

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said the increase illustrated the situation the city's water supply was in.

Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland was experiencing its worst drought on record.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

"The use of emergency powers under the RMA highlights the urgency of the situation Auckland now faces as a result of this drought. These powers will be used by Watercare to draw an extra 15 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River," Goff said.

The increase would see Auckland draw 165 million litres of water from Waikato River every day.

Goff said Auckland would face a water supply crisis this summer if the city could not get enough rain this winter and spring.

"I have instructed Watercare to seek supply from every available water source to head off a potential emergency," he said.

Last month, Auckland Council - at the request of Watercare - implemented water restrictions for the first time since 1994.

Watercare also started asking residents to reduce their indoor water use by at least 20 litres a day and businesses to reduce their indoor water use by a minimum of 5 percent.

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