Glass half full: Auckland water woes ease but 'couple more rainstorms' needed

11:48 am on 29 June 2020

The weekend storm may have brought tornadoes to Auckland but it also left the city's water storage lakes half full.

Aerials and stills of the Upper Mangatangi Dam at 44 percent of capacity

The Upper Mangatangi Dam at 44 percent of capacity before the recent rain. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Lake levels have reached 54.5 percent, about 10 percent higher than a week ago.

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram is "ecstatic", he told Morning Report.

"It's been a good weekend of rain.

"We're still about 20 percent below than we would have been normally, so we need a couple more of these rainstorms and that should bring it back to normal.

"If we can balance the rain without the carnage that would be good."

Heavy rain events can be tricky for forecasters to predict and this one came as a surprise, he said.

"We were expecting June to be an average month for rainfall and I think we've ended up with rainfall in the Waitakeres being well above average, and probably just over average in the Hūnua (Ranges)."

Over the past four days Auckland City has had 90mm of rain according to MetService.

But water still has to be conserved because spring is forecast to be dryer than normal, Jaduram said.

Aucklanders had been asked to keep water usage below 410 mega litres a day in June and said the city had averaged 405 mega litres, which was an "excellent outcome".

"We've got more rain than we thought and we're also pumping more from the Waikato River.

"Now we're going into July, we're expecting average rainfall. If Aucklanders keep demand closer to 400 megalitres a day that would be fantastic".

Restrictions remain, so Aucklanders should continue to be very efficient with their water use inside the house, and are banned from using hoses outside.

"It wouldn't be necessary with all the rain we're getting, hopefully," he said.

"Don't wash the car with a hosepipe. It's wet, it's raining, don't wash the car at the moment. It's going to get all messy anyway."

His own unwashed car is a badge of honour, he says.

"Collectively we've done very well so far, I'm very confident if we continue with this, summer will be less of a pain."

Waikato River Authority wants Auckland 'infrastructure crisis' inquiry

The Waikato River Authority is calling for an inquiry into Auckland's growing reliance on the river for its water supply.

Dylan Tahau, spokesperson for the joint Crown and iwi organisation, said Auckland was currently taking an estimated 40 percent of its water from the Waikato River and that was not sustainable.

Tahau said it was difficult to understand how Auckland's water management had been so out of step with its growth.

It now appeared the river was central to Auckland's future water needs.

The authority is asking Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to launch an inquiry into what he called Auckland's water infrastructure crisis.

Waikato iwi have objected to Auckland Council's bid to more than double the city's daily take from the waterway.

Auckland Council is urging the government to fast track its request to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River.

The council's current consent allows it to take 150 million litres each day, plus 15 million extra due to the drought. An application lodged in 2013 asked for an extra 200 million litres to cater to the city's growing population.

Waikato-Tainui's Rukumoana Schaafhausen said the iwi was willing to discuss short-term measures for maintaining water supply, while long term solutions were found.

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