TODAY |

Watercare wants Aucklanders to change water habits as concerns mount over drought

As Auckland’s dry weather and water restrictions continue, water supplier Watercare is asking people to change their mindset about the resource, although some are asking whether it’s a water management problem instead. 

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Aucklanders will be facing water restrictions like never seen before if rain doesn’t arrive soon. Source: 1 NEWS

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said there was growing concern over Auckland's water supplies for the coming summer.

“We could be facing serious water supply issues this summer,” he said.

“The challenge with a drought is not knowing how severe it is and how long it will be. Therefore, we're just being prudent.”

Mr Jaduram said people were starting to take water for granted because Auckland hadn’t had water restrictions in over 25 years.

“What that demonstrates is the more reliable the source, the less tolerant we become of not having it.”

But in Waikato, regional council chair Russ Rimmington said Auckland should be looking at sustainability instead.

He said Watercare didn’t do a good enough job of managing water consumption for Auckland.

“It’s not a water shortage, it’s a water management problem,” Mr Rimmington said.

Watercare takes 150 million litres a day from the Waikato River, but for a long term solution to increasing demand, wants an additional 200 million. 

The regional council said it was willing to provide that. However, Watercare’s application is 96th in a queue which was considered on a first in first serve basis. 

Mr Rimmington said Aucklanders need to change the way they’re using water.

“They’ve got to really get their dams full, look at containment and have a jolly good look at treating water as a precious resource,” he said.

However, Mr Jaduram said people could always say they should’ve done something earlier.

“For example, in February demand was high but our storage levels were 70 per cent full. 

“If we said to Aucklanders you need to restrict your demand because our lake storage levels are 70 per cent but we think it might be very dry for the rest of the year, they wouldn't have responded well,” he said.

Some weather experts are forecasting a dry spring and an even drier summer.

NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll said it was going to take a “long time” to get out of the drought.

“We’re going to need quite a number of soaking rainfall events.” 

He said five to 10 of these events were needed.

But Mr Jaduram said “lots of rain” is what Watercare was relying on.