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Auckland Council’s tanker programme delivers relief to parched rural communities

Updated 16/2/2020

Published: 14 February 2020

Scattered drops of rain early this morning in northern areas of the Auckland region provided no relief to rural communities – but a special tanker programme has.

This weekend the first tanker-to-tanker filling sites, using milk tankers from the country’s milk tanker fleet, were mobilised on sites in Rodney and have provided more than 100,000L of water to commercial providers for delivery to tank-supply customers.

This initiative supplements the filling options offered at Watercare’s filling stations, speeding up fill times and reducing the wait for customers.

“Having the tankers on site allowed local operators to be filling simultaneously, reducing wait times and allowing them to complete more trips,” says Sam Stanley, Dynes Transport Ltd North Island Manager, who is supplying the large tankers.

On Saturday, 122,000L of water was transferred to commercial providers via tanker-to-tanker filling at Wellsford.

In addition to its regular tanker filling sites, Watercare provided an extra filling option for commercial operators at Kumeu which has supplied more than 150,000L of water over two days. This has helped ease pressure on Watercare’s regular sites, nine of which are operating 24/7 and two (Helensville and Wellsford) are temporarily limited to 10am-4pm daily operating hours.

In total, an additional 276,000L of water was made available on Friday and Saturday for delivery to residents on tank supply (this figure combines the tanker-to-tanker initiative and the additional Kumeu filling site and is on top of Watercare’s regular tanker filling capability). This additional capacity resulted in an estimated 27 more properties getting the water they needed sooner than they would otherwise have.

“Auckland Council and water supply operators are working really hard to get water to those who most need it.  We ask people to be understanding of the situation and support each other,” says Phelan Pirrie, Chair of the Rodney Local Board.

“It’s important that tank supply customers keep placing orders with their usual suppliers and, if they can’t get through first time, keep trying,” says Phelan.

Rodney Ward Councillor Greg Sayers visited the tanker-to-tanker site yesterday and says the extra capacity is working well, and reminds people they can also visit the community filling sites.

“We know that many local businesses and individuals are sharing water or letting people fill up from their taps. We encourage people to help each other out and also visit our community water sites for filling up containers.

“There are many council sites across Rodney, and elsewhere in the Auckland region, where people can take up to 20L per person in their household per day. The council is keeping its website OurAuckland.nz up to date with these locations,” says Greg.

Tanker-to-tanker filling sites and Watercare’s regular tanker filling sites are for commercial operators and cannot fill private tanks or containers.

To find out the up to date information on facilities available for use and for water collection click here.

The council is working on additional tanker-to-tanker sites, as well as the installation of self-service tanks for handheld containers at additional community locations. These will be announced during the week.


The council and Watercare are in close contact and supporting each other in planning initiatives for rural residents.

Watercare has 11 regular filling stations for commercial operators. Nine of these are currently (Sunday 16 February) operating 24/7. The Helensville and Wellsford filling stations are open from 10am to 4pm daily – this is a temporary measure to enable local reservoirs (that they draw from too) to replenish. Visit Watercare’s website for more information.


Ordering water? Be a responsible tank owner

“Water suppliers are working extremely hard to meet demand and deliver water to tank owners," says Mayor Phil Goff.

“We’ve heard of a few cases where tank owners have booked with multiple suppliers and not cancelled bookings after their tank has been filled.

“Please don’t take this approach and hedge your bets – it creates a headache for suppliers and disappoints other people in need.

“And, as always, keep an eye on your tanks, book fills well in advance and do what you can to conserve water."

Public Health advice

Auckland Regional Public Health Service are asking people to prioritize their health during this time:

  • If you are low on water, be sure to prioritize it drinking, hand-washing, cleaning fruits and vegetables while preparing food, cooking etc.
  • Allow recently delivered tank water to settle and clear before using it for drinking, hand-washing and cooking
  • Ensure you only order water from registered tanker water carriers
  • If you are waiting on water and have an empty tank, now’s a good time to do some tank maintenance to help keep your water supply healthy. Most drinking water tanks need to be cleaned every 6-12 months.

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