Tasman residents should prepare for 'last resort' measures if drought continues

If Tasman’s drought continues residents should prepare for further water restrictions, which could eventually lead to “last resort” measures, engineering and water experts warned in a public meeting last night.

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Without rain, last resort measures including the ban of all water use except for essential human and animal needs could be enforced. Source: Breakfast

“Last resort” measures means being limited to essential water use only or turning the taps off to some homes completely.

Without rain, the Wai Iti Dam is expected to dry up in two weeks – meaning the town of Wakefield would likely be banned from all water use except for essential human and animal needs.

The Tasman District Council has taken a number of precautionary measures, including making temporary tanker filler stations available and identifying a number of leaks in the area and closing them down.

It also has plans to shift water between schemes if that becomes necessary.

There’s also the growing risk of water becoming compromised by saltwater. There is currently an emergency bund in place on the Waimea River to prevent saltwater from getting further upstream into bores that supply water to Richmond, Mapua and Hope as well as other aquifer users.

If water sources were compromised in this way, or by drying up completely (such as the Wai Iti Dam), the taps could be turned off completely to households.

This “last resort” approach would involve ceasing water supplies to homes, but still providing it to schools and hospitals.

Tasman District Council Activity Planning Manager Dwayne Fletcher said, “Everyone else for residential use might have to come and get it.”

He said the threat is “not imminent, but it is a possibility if the drought is prolonged”.