On what is normally Auckland’s highest water consumption week of the year, Watercare is urging its customers to keep up the great work and continue using water wisely.
Watercare head of servicing and consents Mark Bourne, who is leading the organisation’s drought response, says the first week of February is traditionally the biggest week of the year when it comes to Aucklanders’ water use.
“Last year was a little different because we were in the midst of a drought, and water use skyrocketed throughout the month of February because there was just no rain. We were breaking record after record, with water use peaking at 568 million litres a day.
“Normally though, the first week in February – particularly mid-week – is when we see water use spike dramatically. It’s when most people are back from their summer holidays, commercial production increases, the school term is starting and the weather is often very hot and dry.”
Bourne says it’s imperative that Aucklanders keep up the great water-saving habits they’ve adopted since restrictions were put in place in May last year.
“Aucklanders have done an outstanding job with their water-saving efforts. Together we’ve saved more than 10 billion litres in the past eight months, and in January our water use stayed comfortably under our target.
“Now that we’re in the time when our water use tends to go sky high, it’s really important that we continue to treat water as the precious resource it is.
“Keep your showers to four minutes a day – if you have to take two, make them two minutes each.
“If you have to use your hose outdoors, keep it to a minimum and always use a trigger nozzle. Sprinklers are not allowed under the current water restrictions, so if you want to cool off the kids, you could fill a small paddling pool and then reuse the water on your garden or to wash your car.”
Bourne says the latest weather forecast indicates this week will be very dry, but the rest of the month should see some rain.
“Forecasters warn us that summer weather forecasting in New Zealand is notoriously unreliable due to the unpredictable nature of tropical weather systems,” he says.
“We’ve already seen this in December and January. Forecasts we received in November indicated December and January would be wetter than normal, but the reality was our water catchments received 74 per cent less rain than normal in December when a couple of ex-tropical cyclones missed the Auckland region entirely.
"January rainfall was also disappointingly sparse with 31 per cent less than normal across our catchments.
“We certainly hope February will be wetter, but since we can’t rely on getting decent rainfall we all need to keep up the water-saving habits that have become second nature, even on the hottest days.”
Auckland’s total dam storage level is currently at 62.3, where normally it would be above 80 per cent at this time of year.
“The good news is, even with the dry weather we are having, the rate of decline in our dam storage level is more gradual than it was last year. This is thanks to the new water sources we have brought online and the great water-saving efforts from Aucklanders.
“This weekend our new Papakura Water Treatment Plant, which treats water from Hays Creek Dam, will go into service, providing up to 6 million litres a day initially.
“We are also building a new treatment plant at the Waikato River, and upgrading our Onehunga and Waitakere treatment plants to boost their production capacities.”