Masterton District Council [MDC] has been forced to introduce water restrictions for the first time this summer due to low flow levels in the Waingawa River, the source of Masterton’s drinking water.
At 2pm yesterday, the river’s flow dropped to 1901 litres per second, according to Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] data.
When the river’s flow rate falls below 2000 litres per second, Masterton residents’ sprinkler use is limited to alternate days – odd numbered houses on odd days, and evens on even days, MDC said.
Restrictions are a required part of the MDC’s consent, provided by GWRC, to take water from the river.
Water levels have been steadily falling since last Thursday, when flows were about 3000 litres per second.
MDC said billboards notifying the restrictions were displayed on Chapel Street near the fire station, Dixon Street near Kuripuni, and at the entrance of the Masterton transfer station.
MDC assets and operations manager Mike Burger said the start of restrictions were relatively late this summer
“Water restrictions are part of summer for Masterton gardeners, and they know how to manage conditions.
“The restriction on sprinkler use will remain in place until the end of summer – the end of March – to avoid confusion, even though we are likely to receive rain intermittently before then.”
If flow rates in the Waingawa River fall below 1300 litres per second, water use may be limited to handheld hoses.
Should the flow dip below 1100 litres per second, a complete ban could be in store for the town.
This time last year Waingawa River’s flow fell to 1394 litres per second.
By February 14 last year, the river’s flow had reduced to a mere trickle of 1114 litres per second.
By comparison, the river became a raging torrent with over 150,000 litres per second tumbling downstream on July 13 last year.
MDC is recommending residents adopt such water-conserving behaviour as turning off their taps when brushing their teeth, taking shorter showers, and only washing clothes and dishes when there is a full load.
The council noted that more than 90 per cent of urban Masterton homes had water meters installed, and residents could keep a close watch for potential leaks.
If all taps are turned off, and the meter’s counter continues to turn, it may indicate a leak and the council should be contacted.