It’s a pivotal week for Wellington’s looming water shortage crisis as residents wait to hear whether further restrictions are required to avoid a drinking water emergency.
Wellington Water has reported that demand typically stays fairly suppressed until after Wellington Anniversary Weekend when a lot of people come back from their summer holidays.
Parts of the region got a brief spell of rain on Monday’s public holiday before the afternoon turned into one of Wellington’s ‘good days’. People flocked to the beaches while others filled up backyard paddling pools to cool down.
Last week the region moved to Level 2 water restrictions meaning no residential sprinklers or irrigation is allowed. People can still water their gardens, wash their cars, and fill up their pools as long as it’s all done by hand.
The latest Wellington Water risk modelling shows there is a 60 per cent chance the region will need to move to Level 3 restrictions and this is most likely to occur in the coming week.
Wellington Water regulatory services director Charles Barker said they would have a better idea later this week as to whether restrictions needed to be escalated.
“The current Level 2 water restrictions are working and any rain we’ve had recently has helped ensure we can maintain a stable level of service to the community.
“Wellingtonians are following the restrictions and playing their part to ensure we avoid an acute water shortage this summer.”
Barker said the storage lakes and aquifer were at healthy levels for this time of year.
“That said, we expect the current river levels to reduce, which reflects the normal seasonal pattern,” he said.
Simeon Brown to meet with mayors
Meanwhile, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown will meet with the mayors of Wellington City and Upper Hutt on Monday after he accused them of failing to provide more detailed information about their plans to address the water shortage.
The omission of this information was “concerning”, Brown said. However, Tory Whanau and Wayne Guppy said it was simply an unfortunate case of miscommunication.
Brown noted Porirua Mayor Anita Baker reached out to him on Friday morning to “express her concerns and frustration” with the way the other Wellington Water shareholder councils had approached the request for information.
Both Guppy and Whanau have since committed to provide the information, Brown said.
“I welcome their prompt engagement on these important matters, and I look forward to reviewing the information soon.”
Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.