Go easy on Rotorua water use, urges council

By Abigail Hartevelt

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Rotorua people are urged to avoid any unnecessary use of water as the city has its driest period in 25 years.

The extended dry spell has seen a sharp rise in water demand across the district and, at times, usage has reached the point where storage reservoirs are being emptied faster than pumps can fill them.

Rotorua District Council utilities operations manager Eric Cawte said this was putting extra pressure on infrastructure and systems and increased the risk of a breakdown somewhere in the network.

Mr Cawte said the marked increase in water consumption was largely caused by the over-use of garden and lawn sprinklers and irrigation systems, and that was not sustainable over long periods of time.

"With no rain in Rotorua for a lengthy spell the council is reminding residents to be responsible about their use of water and eliminate wastage wherever possible.

"If everyone co-operates and exercises some restraint we'll be able to get by and avoid the need to put in place mandatory restrictions," he said.

The council urged residents to follow its guidelines for water use during the dry spell.

Rotorua weatherman Brian Holden said 12.5mm of rain had fallen in January, making it the driest month on record since 1988 when 10mm was recorded, also in January of that year.

Normally, January had about 100mm of rain. "It must be driving the farmers crazy."

Rerewhakaaitu farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Brian Osbourne said they were entering the "crisis part of the dry spell".

He said he had been milking only once a day since November which was early.

Normally, they wouldn't go down to one milking a day until January or February.

"Last year [in summer] we didn't go down to one [milking] a day."

He said farmers in the region had been pro-active and had been well prepared.

He hoped farmers had culled any surplus stock which were not milking well, and quit their young stock and reduced their milking to once a day.

He said the crops of turnips which were used as feed had not been good this summer, either.

Most farmers didn't start drying cows off until May but if there was no rain soon Mr Osbourne said he might have to do that by the middle of this month.

Meanwhile, Mourea resident Bert Macfarlane is praying for rain as his tank, which is not on a town water supply, is nearly empty and he is getting water on a daily basis from various sources in town.

Mr Macfarlane said he had been getting water in town for the past 12 years but this year was the worst.

He said he was having one-minute showers and the family of five were not flushing the toilet every time it was used to save on water.


Rotorua District Council's water use guidelines and tips



  • Only water areas that really need it and don't allow overspray on to paths and driveways.


  • Water lawns or gardens in the evenings, as water evaporates quickly in the heat of the day.


  • It is okay for lawns to go brown - they will quickly recover after the next good rainfall.


  • To maintain good health, plants need only one or two good waterings a week.


  • Water running from the lawn on to paths or driveways means the lawn is saturated and further watering is wasteful.


  • Don't leave the hose running when washing cars or houses, and wash cars on the lawn.


- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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