Low rainfall across Wellington’s water catchment areas last month combined with a forecast for more of the same this summer, has increased the chance of a tough summer for urban water users.
The rivers that supply most of the water for the region’s cities collectively had a third less flow than normal during October, and NIWA’s latest forecast says there’s now an increased likelihood of below average rainfall over the next three months. A dry summer could see river levels staying below normal, and water use rising sharply.
With the second of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s water storage lakes at Te Marua out of action while it’s being enlarged and earthquake strengthened, there will be half the usual lake-water in reserve for the region’s cities over the summer period. This reserve is used to compensate for any gap between available water from rivers and public demand.
Cr Nigel Wilson, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Social and Cultural Wellbeing Committee, says it’s important that water users are aware of the situation and take some small steps now to ensure there is enough water to go around this summer.
“With one storage lake empty and an increased chance of low rainfall continuing, we need all water users in Wellington, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and Porirua to get ready for a dry summer. Water use is under control right now, so let’s keep it that way,” says Cr Wilson. “If we all do something to use a bit less water, it should see us through.”
Last summer’s water use was the lowest in at least 25 years and Cr Wilson is keen to see the fantastic water conservation effort repeated. “Last year’s low water use was very good news,” says Cr Wilson. “If we can do the same this year, we should be okay.”
Complying with city council watering restrictions and making small changes such as fitting a hose trigger, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, fixing leaks and mulching garden beds to retain moisture in the soil, can make a big difference to water use.