If, as expected today, Aucklanders are once again permitted to water gardens, wash cars and use water blasters after restrictions are relaxed, it's little cause for jubilation.
Based on advice from Watercare, council officers now believe there is sufficient water and projected rainfall heading into summer to ease restrictions following one of the worst parched periods in the city's history.
Opening the nozzles on outdoor hoses and water blasters from December 14 will be welcomed if approved, even though the ban on water sprinklers is likely to remain. In this is the reminder that water provisions for New Zealand's largest city remain in a tenuous state.
While it is most likely that restrictions will ease, it should be remembered that Auckland Council has been more conservative in the response to the water crisis than its CCO.
Even when reservoirs began restocking, as residents and businesses performed well above expectation to conserve use, Auckland councillors opted two months ago to remain playing it safe. Councillors in September soundly rejected a proposal by the board of Watercare to ease water restrictions for businesses and households.
Now according to a report signed off by Watercare chief executive Jim Stabback and to be considered today positive dam storage levels, rainfall, new water supply infrastructure and revised weather forecasts mean staff now consider it is appropriate to consider adjusting residential water restrictions in the lead up to summer.
Dam storage levels have risen from 67.5 per cent full on September 21 to 72.47 per cent full on November 18 - above the trigger level for voluntary savings in a normal year. Torrential rains yesterday and overnight will have only raised the expectation of shackles coming off the taps.
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It's not an unreasonable expectation and, if anyone has come out of this crisis with credit, it is the Aucklanders who have responded to and exceeded the targets for water savings over the restriction period.
Officials scrambled to fast-track contingencies once the scope of the crisis was realised but it was the citizens who delivered the city from the more dire and driest summer consequences. Ultimately, the end-users were left carrying the can and Aucklanders did so, admirably.
It may well be the case that the council again opts for more caution. But the way forward appears to be a process trialled somewhat successfully in the nation's response to Covid.
It's expected a small group of councillors - Mayor Phil Goff, deputy mayor Bill Cashmore and Watercare liaison councillor Linda Cooper - will be delegated authority to change the water restrictions, up or down, over the summer recess period.
This sounds similar to our standing mechanism of alert levels to community infections and suggests, just as with the virus, we are at the whim of forces we have been unable to predict and prepare for.
The difference with water supply is, of course, we did have people who were appointed and well-remunerated to do that.