Hamilton's mayor says the city could help Auckland deal with the worst water shortage in decades.
Aucklanders are now in week 2 of restrictions designed to drop water use 5 per cent as the region grapples with its driest start to the year on record. Only about a third of the average rainfall has dropped to replenish rapidly depleting storage dams.
On Monday, daily water use fell to 411 megalitres - down from 433 a week ago, a reduction of nearly 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate today said the city "looks likely" to help Auckland with its looming water crisis, but any help would come with conditions to protect the Waikato River and Hamilton's long-term interests.
Watercare, which is owned by Auckland Council, has asked Hamilton's council to temporarily transfer some of its unused water allocation to Watercare on a short-term basis.
Southgate said councillors discussed the request for the first time yesterday.
No decision was reached and will not be until late next month at he earliest when the council will make a formal decision.
But staff had been directed to engage with Waikato-Tainui, Watercare and Waikato Regional Council to see how Hamilton could help ease Auckland's water woes.
"Councillors recognise that a healthy and vibrant Auckland economy is critical to New Zealand and that without water, the Auckland economy cannot function. So of course Hamilton wants to help, particularly in a post-Covid environment. It is in New Zealand's interests that we should," Southgate said.
"Hamilton and Auckland already work closely on a number of issues around transport, planning, logistics and more.
"Both cities already have common interests, as neighbours do. But my council is very clear that, should the city come to an arrangement to help Auckland, it can pose absolutely no risk to Hamilton City water users and must not impact on the availability of water to our city."
Southgate said council supported iwi concerns around the health and wellbeing of the river and would consult closely with Waikato-Tainui before making a final decision.
"For Hamilton and for my council, the health of the river is paramount so we are urging Watercare to continue looking for sustainable, long-term solutions to this crisis."
Meanwhile, 30mm to 40mm of rain fell in the Hunua and Waitākere ranges Sunday and Monday, keeping dam levels steady at 42.9 per cent.
However, Watercare warned more cuts will be needed to avoid a major crisis.
Stage 2 restrictions would be introduced when the dams hit 40 per cent, and demand tougher savings from businesses.
AUCKLAND'S WATER WOES
• Stage 1 water restrictions prohibit the use of outdoor hoses and water blasters unless for a health, safety, emergency or biosecurity reason; or if they use recycled water.
• Commercial car washes are also banned unless they use recycled water; watering of sports fields, plants or paddocks is restricted to those with an irrigation system fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors. All businesses are urged to make savings of 10 per cent.
• Short showers - four minutes or less, and only run the dishwasher or washing machine when they're full.