Use Less Water

19 March 2013

While most Wellingtonians will have welcomed the rain over the past couple of days, it won’t have been enough to make a dent in the region’s water supply problems.

Watering tomato plants with a bucket of water saved from home use.

Water your garden with kitchen waste water

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So the ban on outdoor water use remains in place - and everyone is asked to do as much as possible to cut back on overall water use.

Water levels in our local rivers - the source of our water supply - are extremely low. A significant reduction in demand for water will extend the number of days that back-up storage will last, so it’s important to save water now.

The ban on all outdoor water applies to Wellington, Lower Hutt, Porirua and Upper Hutt until further notice. This includes sprinklers, irrigation systems, hoses and watering cans (see water saving tips below).

This ban is needed to make sure there will be enough water for the essential needs of households, businesses and public services if the dry period continues. Extra restrictions may be needed if our water reserves continue to drop.

If businesses rely on water for their outdoor work - painting firms that use water blasters, for example - we ask that they be prudent with their use of water at this stage and not use water if at all possible. If the water shortage continues, we may also have to impose a total ban on commercial outdoor activity.

Greater Wellington Regional Council will update its website regularly to show how the efforts to reduce water use are going. To view these updates, visit:

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Enforcement

So far it appears Wellingtonians are taking the water shortage seriously and are cutting back on usage.  

However local councils will respond to complaints about breaches of the outdoor water ban. Warnings will be issued and councils reserve the right to prosecute if warnings are ignored. The maximum fine for breaches of the ban is $20,000.

If you are aware of unlawful water use then call us on (04) 499 4444 and we’ll investigate.

What the City Council is doing

We have to do our bit too - and because the Council has the power to impose the outdoor-use ban, there is already intense public interest in how we are dealing with the water shortage.

We have made the tough decision that we will cease the daily irrigation - from the mains - of our sportsfields and gardens immediately - except for our most valuable and vulnerable plants. While we reserve the right to review this decision, because a lack of water clearly has serious implications for the wellbeing of our grass surfaces, especially, we have to demonstrate to residents that we are cutting back on water use as well.

We are cutting back on water use at a range of Council facilities.

For example we will immediately ask people to avoid, if possible, using our showers at our pools and sports pavilions. The showers are actually one of the biggest consumers of water across the Council. We are also cutting back on the replenishment of pool water and on hose-down pressures.

We are turning off fountains and water features across the city as much as possible. We are ceasing use of pressure washers for routine work around the city and only deploying them where a spillage introduces a public health or environmental risk. We will also stop mechanical road sweeping in areas where water is required to dampen dust.

We are looking at possible alternative emergency sources of water if the drought worsens. These include, for example, the dam at Zealandia and possible drawing of water from the stormwater network to water sportsfields.

If the supply situation further worsens then we may have to impose more stringent bans - including a full ban on outdoor water use by commercial operators.

Tips on how to save water

  • Only use washing machines and dishwashers for full loads.
  • Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth (use only for rinsing).
  • Put a brick or plastic bottle full of water in your toilet cistern - a 1-litre bottle is fine - so the cistern uses less water.
  • Fix any dripping taps or leaking pipes or toilet cisterns.
  • Put water in a bowl or sink to wash vegetables.
  • Collect waste (grey) water as you shower or empty your washing machine to water plants - there is a total ban on using hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems. Watering cans can be used with waste water.