A North Shore resident is furious with Watercare for telling Aucklanders to save water and not fixing a water leak he reported eight days ago.

John McCarthy said he reported the leak on Park Rise at Campbells Bay on June 14, saying "it is like having three garden hoses going full tilt 24/7".

He said he phoned Watercare and was told the leak had already been recorded and "we will get on to it".

"I'm extremely angry because we've got this chief executive earning $800,000 telling us to save water but he can't sort out his own backyard," McCarthy said.


It's wet today, but Auckland's drought is far from over
Northland drought 'locked in' with metre of rain needed to prevent another next summer
Premium - Auckland drought: Taps will be turned off over summer if dry weather continues
Too light, too little: Auckland needs a month of rain to recover from drought

Raveen Jaduram, the chief executive of Watercare, is the highest-paid bureaucrat at the Auckland Council Group, with a salary of $775,000. His package rose $50,000 from the previous year.

A Watercare spokeswoman said the company was first made aware of the leak on June 11. It was classed as a low-priority leak and when contractors arrived on June 15 they were unable to find the source.

"Leak detection services were called in and they too have been unable to find the source," the spokeswoman said, saying the presence of plastic pipes makes audible testing more difficult.

Subscribe to Premium

She said chlorine testing to determine the presence of potable (drinking) water has been negative. Pilot holes have been drilled into the surrounding area but are dry, which shows the water is tracking some distance and may therefore be groundwater.

"Fluoride testing is due to be carried out today and it's hoped that will reveal if the water is potable/non-potable."

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram. Photo / Greg Bowker
Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram. Photo / Greg Bowker

The spokesman said Watercare appreciates local residents' frustration but sometimes the source of leaks is not easy to locate, saying Watercare must carry out all reasonable investigations before ripping up roads and footpaths.

The problem with the leak comes during the worst drought in the city's history and a ban on Aucklanders using water outdoors for activities like watering gardens and washing cars.

Mayor Phil Goff said taps could be turned off in homes across Auckland if the prolonged drought turns into a major crisis over summer.

The amount of water available for the city's 1.5 million residents will plummet to 200m litres a day at the height of summer when usage peaks at 600m litres at the height of summer, the mayor said.


Since May 16, outdoor water restrictions have set water usage targets at 410m litres a day or less. Savings are broadly in line with the target and the city's dams are holding at about 45 per cent full.

Today, Goff made a plea to Parliament's environment select committee to fast-track Auckland's application to take more water from the Waikato River.

The council wants the water application added to a list of 11 projects being fast-tracked by special legislation to override the Resource Management Act and speed up the post-Covid recovery.

Auckland Council applied to the Waikato Regional Council in 2013 to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day to cater to increasing population demands.

Goff said the council and Watercare would minimise the environmental effects of drawing more water and carry out work to preserve the quality of the water and the health of the river.

What's more, he said, local iwi and councils in the Waikato would be represented on the board that hears the application.

"With the crisis in the water supply and impact of climate change this may not be a one-off, we may find the 1 in 200-year drought becomes a regular factor. We can't afford to close down this country's biggest city."

National's deputy leader and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said the Opposition supported Goff's call to fast-track the resource consent to take more water from the Waikato River.

"Auckland is experiencing a 1-in-200 year drought at the moment and needs water urgently.

National deputy leader and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye. Photo / Supplied
National deputy leader and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye. Photo / Supplied

"This is the last thing we need as we enter a recession. We must be providing work for as many New Zealanders as possible to rebuild our economy from Covid-19."

Kay said National understands that water infrastructure is essential, alongside RMA reform, to prevent drought situations occurring.

Last week, Watercare invoked emergency power to take an extra 15 million litres a day from the river to increase production from the river to 165 million litres a day and reduce demand on the city's drought-hit dams.

Auckland Council's chief economist David Norman estimates up to 14,000 jobs could be affected by the drought and ongoing water restrictions.

He believes 750 to 1000 jobs are already affected by the current water restrictions.

Goff said businesses, particularly in the food and beverage manufacturing, would face disruption from water restrictions over summer. Restrictions on watering sports fields and turf would also impact sport and recreation.