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SW Mayor leaks drought advice ahead of dry months

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC], which loses about 40 per cent of its drinking water to leaks, is running a campaign warning residents to be vigilant ahead of projected summer drought conditions.

Mayor Martin Connelly said it would be essential for residents to fix leaks on private land and report leaks on public land. He strongly suggested residents install rainwater tanks for gardening and washing vehicles.

“Although there is plenty of rainfall in South Wairarapa, we experience dry conditions every summer, and we lose lots of drinking water to leaks.

“Like every year, we will likely need to impose water restrictions in the driest period,” Connelly said.

SWDC said they lose 40 per cent of their drinking water to leaks, and about 40 per cent of those leaks are from private pipes. Leaky pipes connecting to private property are the landowners’ responsibility to fix.

Water is free in South Wairarapa for the first 350,000 litres each year; after that, it costs $1.84 per 1000 litres.

He said leaks could be easy to spot, like a dripping outdoor tap or invisible underground leaks that households are unaware of until they get a large water bill at the end of the year.

“We ask residents to be extra vigilant, detect their leaks, and have them attended to by a qualified plumber.

“A small drip might seem insignificant, but if everyone’s tap drips, that can be thousands of litres of water just disappearing, he said.

Connelly said SWDC might rescind a bill due to a leak if the resident gets it fixed promptly and shows a plumber’s receipt.

“Our approach is not to collect money but to ensure we have consistent drinking water supplies for years to come; water metres are a way of identifying invisible leaks,” he said.

The council waived about two-thirds of water bills levied last year.

Connelly also asked residents to report any public leaks to the council, who would notify Wellington Water [WW] to fix the pipe.

“Emergency leaks will almost certainly be fixed in a day or two, while lower priority leaks might take WW a few weeks to repair. Leaks can mean losing drinking water, but in very wet soil, it can also lead to contaminants such as e.coli entering the drinking water pipe, which is a significant health and safety risk.

“People must call the council when they see a leak so we can fix it.

In November, WW detected 56 leaks and fixed 33 of them.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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