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Monday, February 26, 2024
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Warning to begin conserving water now

With water restrictions now in place in Masterton and Carterton, residents in the wider Wellington region – which includes South Wairarapa – are being urged to make sure emergency water supplies are topped up in anticipation of water shortages this summer.

Temperatures soaring to nearly 30 degrees Celsius in Wairarapa this week have been accompanied by an urgent reminder from local authorities about conserving water usage.

For the first time this summer, Masterton District Council [MDC] has issued water restrictions due to low flow levels in the Waingawa River, the source of the district’s drinking water.

For Masterton residents, garden sprinklers may now only be used on alternate days [odd-numbered houses on odd days and evens on even days].

MDC acting assets and operations manager Phil Evans said the start of restrictions is relatively late this summer.

“Water restrictions are nothing new for Masterton gardeners, and they know how to manage conditions and keep their gardens growing,” Evans said.

“Most urban Masterton homes now have water meters installed, and these can be used to identify potential leaks.

“If all taps are turned off, and numbers on the meter are continuing to turn, it may indicate a leak, and the council should be contacted.”

Evans said restrictions will stay in place until the end of March, even if the region has spells of rain before then.

“We want to avoid changes every time it rains, or if we get a dry few weeks, but if there is a sustained dry period, there may be further limits on water use,” Evans said.

“If flow rates in the Waingawa River fall below 1300 litres per second, water use may at times be limited to handheld hoses, with a complete ban on garden watering if flows drop below 1100 litres per second.”

Carterton residents were warned by Carterton District Council [CDC] in November to prepare for a dry summer and start conserving water.

Current water restrictions in Carterton include a total ban on all unattended watering systems, although residents can still water gardens on alternate days, “as long as you keep a hand on your hose”.

About 200 people have entered the council’s draw for gold card and community services card holders to win a free water tank, and a spokesperson said residents are still encouraged to apply.

South Wairarapa’s water is operated by Wellington Water, and is currently at level one restrictions, which applies all year for the district.

Similar to the rest of the region, level one in South Wairarapa means alternate watering days apply, but handheld watering can be used at any time in the district as long as they’re not left unattended.

Wellington Water regulatory services director Charles Barker said the district is “relatively well placed in terms of water supply resilience”.

“The council’s investment in the Waiohine treated water reservoir, which provides an extra two days of water storage for Greytown and Featherston, has improved resilience for these towns,” Barker said.

“The South Wairarapa region is more positively placed regarding pipe leakage compared to the Wellington metropolitan areas, and we continue to focus on leak repairs as a priority.”

With predictions of a hot dry summer, Barker said it’s anticipated the region eventually will shift to level two restrictions, banning all unattended watering systems.

“Our message to the public is to continue to make efforts to conserve water as they do throughout the year and keep an eye on our social media channel, where we’ll provide updates on the situation in the South Wairarapa.”

Barker noted that water usage is tracking as it usually does at this time of year, and is increasing with the temperatures.

The estimated amount of water the average person churns through per week is 1540 litres, according to the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office [WREMO].

Households in the wider Wellington region with infrastructure managed by Wellington Water – including South Wairarapa – are being advised to top up emergency water supplies.

WREMO’s recommended amount per person is 140 litres, which breaks down to a week’s worth of water at 20 litres per person per day.

This amount is estimated to be enough for drinking, food preparation, hand washing, and basic hygiene purposes [brushing teeth and a sponge bath].

The minimum amount of stored emergency water recommended by WREMO is 21 litres – breaking down to three litres per person per day for a week – which is sufficient for drinking, cooking, and basic hygiene.

“We are expecting to see tighter water restrictions in 2024,” WREMO regional manager Jeremy Holmes said, “so now is the time for people to store emergency water and replenish the supplies they already have while restrictions still allow.”

Tighter water restrictions over summer could mean bans on all outdoor water use, reducing indoor water use by up to 50 per cent, and potential water supply disruptions. “We want to avoid changes every time it rains, or if we get a dry few weeks, but if there is a sustained dry period, there may be further limits on water use,” Evans said.

“If flow rates in the Waingawa River fall below 1300 litres per second, water use may at times be limited to handheld hoses, with a complete ban on garden watering if flows drop below 1100 litres per second.”

Carterton residents were warned by Carterton District Council [CDC] in November to prepare for a dry summer and start conserving water.

Current water restrictions in Carterton include a total ban on all unattended watering systems, although residents can still water gardens on alternate days, “as long as you keep a hand on your hose”.

About 200 people have entered the council’s draw for gold card and community services card holders to win a free water tank, and a spokesperson said residents are still encouraged to apply.

South Wairarapa’s water is operated by Wellington Water, and is currently at level one restrictions, which applies all year for the district.

Similar to the rest of the region, level one in South Wairarapa means alternate watering days apply, but handheld watering can be used at any time in the district as long as they’re not left unattended.

Wellington Water regulatory services director Charles Barker said the district is “relatively well placed in terms of water supply resilience”.

“The council’s investment in the Waiohine treated water reservoir, which provides an extra two days of water storage for Greytown and Featherston, has improved resilience for these towns,” Barker said.

“The South Wairarapa region is more positively placed regarding pipe leakage compared to the Wellington metropolitan areas, and we continue to focus on leak repairs as a priority.”

With predictions of a hot dry summer, Barker said it’s anticipated the region eventually will shift to level two restrictions, banning all unattended watering systems.

“Our message to the public is to continue to make efforts to conserve water as they do throughout the year and keep an eye on our social media channel, where we’ll provide updates on the situation in the South Wairarapa.”

Barker noted that water usage is tracking as it usually does at this time of year, and is increasing with the temperatures.

The estimated amount of water the average person churns through per week is 1540 litres, according to the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office [WREMO].

Households in the wider Wellington region with infrastructure managed by Wellington Water – including South Wairarapa – are being advised to top up emergency water supplies.

WREMO’s recommended amount per person is 140 litres, which breaks down to a week’s worth of water at 20 litres per person per day.

This amount is estimated to be enough for drinking, food preparation, hand washing, and basic hygiene purposes [brushing teeth and a sponge bath].

The minimum amount of stored emergency water recommended by WREMO is 21 litres – breaking down to three litres per person per day for a week – which is sufficient for drinking, cooking, and basic hygiene.

“We are expecting to see tighter water restrictions in 2024,” WREMO regional manager Jeremy Holmes said, “so now is the time for people to store emergency water and replenish the supplies they already have while restrictions still allow.”

Tighter water restrictions over summer could mean bans on all outdoor water use, reducing indoor water use by up to 50 per cent, and potential water supply disruptions.

1 COMMENT

  1. We have flooding in winter? We let the rivers build up sediment? We have droughts in the summer? We could but we don’t build a dam? We are starting to build solar energy farms and wind turbines? Just a thought if we had a dam that would solve 🤔 water 💧 and provide power 🔋 🤔. Just a thought if we cleaned the river beds of sediment that should solve 😉 most of the flooding 😀. When I went to school I was taught commonsense not fiction.

Comments are closed.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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