Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Wellington water ban eases strain of shortage

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Wellington's water shortage is looking less dire after an overwhelming response to water conservation messages.

A total ban on outdoor water use in Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt Valley was introduced a fortnight ago to ease the strain on the region's dwindling water reserves.

River levels remain very low for March, but recent rain and conservation efforts have eased the pressure significantly from earlier in the month.

The region used 119 million litres of water yesterday - well below the 130 million litre target, and significantly less than three weeks ago, when the region was using an average of 160 million litres a day.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman Fran Wilde said the public response had been significant.

"It's a huge result, although we're not out of the woods yet. We need to take a precautionary approach and continue our water conservation efforts, at least until the next significant rainfall lifts river flows again."

Regional Council water supply manager Chris Laidlow said the most recent rain, more than a week ago, had been more significant than initially predicted.

"It was heavier and went on for longer. This meant more rain soaked into the ground, resulting in river levels staying higher for longer."

The higher levels mean more water can be drawn from rivers for supply, taking pressure of the Hutt aquifer and allowing the Stuart Macaskill storage lake to be refilled.

Mr Laidlow said river levels could return to the levels they were at two weeks ago without more rain by mid-April.

"Another couple of days rain should put us in a good position to consider lifting restrictions."

Neighbours have been dobbing in residents who flout the outdoor water use ban.

Wellington City Council this week sent warning letters to 50 residents who had washed cars, hosed down paths, cleaned boats or watered plants.

It had not yet issued any infringement notices, but repeat offenders would face a fine.

The council has discretion to set the amount of smaller fines, while courts could impose a fine of up to $20,000.

Warnings have also been sent to Lower Hutt residents, while infringement notices were being issued in the first instance in Upper Hutt.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 31 Oct 2014 07:19:24 Processing Time: 484ms