The prolonged hot, dry days are pushing water usage up and in the absence of rain in the foreseeable future, is putting pressure on rural residents in the Auckland region.
Water tanks are running low with many reports of residents close to running out of water. Independent water services are strained while waiting times extend up to six weeks.
Measures in place to support rural communities
To help ease concerns Auckland Council and Watercare have identified locations on the fringes of the region and in rural areas where people can fill containers for domestic use.
“We’re conscious of the challenges rural residents are facing and are providing to those on tank water supplies,” says Mayor Phil Goff.
“We have arranged water collection at four community locations already and are looking to add more places where people can drop in and fill up containers in the coming days.
“Some of our leisure centres are offering showers and other assistance to locals and we’re looking at other community venues that can also support people running low on water.
“A big thanks to the communities who are helping each other and those who have made small changes in and around their homes to save water already,” says Goff.
General advice for farmers and growers
Here's some advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries during dry conditions.
- Look after yourself, family, employees, and keep an eye on your neighbours.
- Have a robust and realistic plan and trigger points to take actions.
- Do a feed budget and stick to it, while feeding stock as well as possible
- Use irrigation water effectively and profitably.
- Take advantage of the dry to do things that you might not ordinarily do – access areas that are often too wet; repair fencing, paint…
- Talk to trusted advisors and those who have survived this before, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or support.
- Make decisions for the right reasons – livestock sale decisions should be made for animal welfare and farm profitability reasons.
- Be mindful of fire risk and have an evacuation plan for your family and pets.
Where to go for information
- Rural Support Trusts 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
- Your accountant, farm adviser, local vet and other rural professionals
- Federated Farmers and Rural Women NZ
- Need to Talk? Phone or text 1737 anytime
- Youthline: For young people 0800 376 633
- Farmstrong: nationwide wellbeing programme for the rural community
- Your own GP.
Doors open to facilities in the spirit of community
The council is looking at its community facilities like pools and leisure centres, libraries and community venues, as well as working with sports clubs, schools and rural fire stations, to find places that can help with water distribution.
“In order to arrange all of the logistics, we’re taking a phased approach,” says General Manager of Auckland Emergency Management Kate Crawford.
The council is using the connections and coordinating function of its Auckland Emergency Management team to bring together a council-wide response to water shortages and is working alongside Watercare.
The first phase sees four community centres being used as hubs for filling containers for domestic use. Water will be available at Warkworth Town Hall, Wellsford Community Centre, Helensville Library, Orewa Service Centre and the Te Puru Community Centre in Beachlands.
Centres will be open from Friday and more sites will be added in the coming days.
Auckland Council owned leisure centres in Franklin, Waiuku, Waitākere, Albany, Glenfield and Stanmore Bay are offering showers to those that need them. If you’re not a member, speak to a member of staff for entry.
Kate says the next phase will involve the distribution of 10,000L water tanks to locations still being finalised. These will be available for filling up of domestic water containers.
The council is also working with private suppliers of large tankers from the country’s milk tanker fleet to see what tankers can be made available to assist.
“The high-level logistics around commissioning vehicles from the milk tanker fleet are obvious – working in with their primary role and in support of private suppliers – so we’re working through the best way to action this now.
“Importantly, the focus of this initiative will be to work with private operators, as alternative filling points, to reduce waiting times,” she says.