Watercare granted consent to access extra 100 million litres a day from Waikato River

7:19 pm on 9 September 2020

Auckland's water authority, Watercare, has been granted consent to take an extra 100 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River.

The water level is low in the creek leading into Upper Nihotupu Dam.

There were low water levels in the creek leading into Upper Nihotupu Dam earlier this year in April. Photo: Supplied / Watercare

The city is in the midst of a prolonged drought, with water storage dams well below their usual levels for this time of year and water restrictions in place.

The application to take the extra water was lodged in May and it has just been approved by the Waikato Regional Council.

It means Watercare can take the extra allocation of water between May and September, and at other times of the year when the river is above median flow.

With the consent granted, Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said plans to build an additional water treatment plane at Tūākau could be progressed.

Watercare already has consents to take 175 million litres a day from the river, which is the maximum amount the existing water treatment plant can treat and deliver.

It has also been granted consent to use 25 million litres a day shared by the Hamilton City Council.

Jaduram said the agreement with Hamilton City Council was important in the short-term, as the city recovered from this year's drought.

"Our total dam storage level is currently 67 percent, where normally it would be nearing 90 percent at this time of year," he said.

"We are working hard to bring on new water sources for Auckland by Christmas. To be able to use the extra 25 million litres a day from Hamilton City Council regardless of river flow puts us in a strong position over summer, when water consumption traditionally goes up."

Last week, Waikato Regional Council, Watercare, Auckland Council and Waikato-Tainui signed a relationship agreement - with Waikato River Authority to consider it over the next few days - to work together to protect the river and the people it provides for in both the Waikato and Auckland regions.

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