Yesterday (Wednesday 22 April), the “tanker-to-tanker” initiative employed by Auckland Council to support private water carriers over the summer, ended.
Recent rain across the region has seen a drop in demand from operators, as their turnaround times for delivery return to normal, with many now reporting either same or next day delivery services.
In mid-February, a fleet of milk tankers were redeployed from around the North Island to act as “relay stations” to support private water carriers, under pressure from the demand for water from parched rural residents. At peak in early March, up to 13 tankers were operating daily in the north, south and west of the region.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, together with Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore, proposed the idea of using the milk tankers to support water deliveries.
Mayor Goff says, “We were conscious of the position rural communities and independent water carriers found themselves in as the rain stayed away over summer.
“As the drought progressed in February, tanks were running low or out and the waiting time for water deliveries was approaching six weeks or more. We knew we needed to find a solution quickly, so we asked Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters team to investigate using milk tankers to help transport water to residents.”
From that seed of an idea, within six days a network of tankers was stationed at rural sites in areas most in need of water to act as mobile filling stations. Six days on from their arrival, the fleet were delivering over one million litres daily to private water carriers and over the eleven-week period have carried around 44,444,302 million litres of water for distribution at a cost of $1.4 million. Watercare pulled out all stops to ensure both private tanker operators and the support fleet had greater access to water, opening four new temporary filling stations in Kumeu, Glen Eden and Orewa.
“By having the tankers on the ground as a hub, it allowed us to get water deliveries to the people faster. And there were some very anxious customers out there desperate for water,” says Warren Patchett owner of Maraetai Blue.
“We’ve really appreciated the support of the council in providing this service to us. It helped our stress levels and those of our customers,” he adds.
This is the first time such an initiative has been trialled in Auckland.
While the “tanker-to-tanker” operation will no longer be operating, contingency drinking water supplies will still be available to rural residents at local halls where outside taps are accessible. The amount of water that can be taken has been raised from 20L per person per household to 30L and COVID-19 guidelines apply when filling containers.
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