23 Sep 2021

Severe summer water restrictions for Auckland unlikely as reservoirs hit 82% capacity

6:35 pm on 23 September 2021

Auckland Council's water manager believes it's unlikely there'll be any more severe water restrictions this summer, after recent rain.

Hays Creek Dam

Watercare's Hayes Creek Dam (file image). Photo: Watercare Services

An overnight and morning downpour today lifted the city's dams to 82 percent of capacity, after consistent rain through winter and spring. Levels are now only slightly below the just over 90 percent average for this time of year.

Currently, "stage one" water restrictions are in place, which forbid only sprinklers and hoses without trigger nozzles. Commercial users are almost uninhibited, other than irrigation systems needing rain sensors.

Watercare chief operations officer Mark Bourne said the city was in a reasonable position heading into summer.

"I would anticipate that any form of restriction more stringent than the current stage one restrictions over the summer I think would be very unlikely," Bourne said.

By the start of summer, lake levels could be around 85 percent, but were dependant on rainfall and use.

"We're certainly not expecting restrictions to be any more severe than they are at the moment. We will continue to undertake monitoring ... and we'll continue to set targets for Aucklanders to keep their water levels under."

Bourne acknowledged Aucklanders' use has been exceptional by restricting showers and other water use, and usage regularly came in under the daily targets the organisation had set.

In June, reservoirs were at 49.5 percent of capacity, compared to 77 percent historically at that time.

At the time, Watercare chief executive Jon Lamonte said the supply was causing less concern than last year because it is not just relying on its dams.

Since May last year, groundwater bores had successfully been brought into the city system, treatment plants have been upgraded to increase capacity, and a new plant was built in Papakura to take water from the Hayes Creek dam.

"So we're building back alternative sources of water so we are not quite so reliant on those dams. That's the way we're going to get through this."

A significant amount of water is also taken from the Waikato River - last week, 50 percent of the city's use.

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