Auckland is moving to an alert system like the one used for Covid-19 to deal with the ongoing water crisis.

The alert system, set up by Watercare, has four stages with increasing restrictions based on falling lake water storage levels.

They have been prompted by the shortage of water in Auckland's nine dams due to a significant lack of rain, including 78 days with less than 1mm of rain from January 20 to April 6. The region has recorded less than half of its normal rainfall since November last year.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has warned without enough rain in winter and spring, the city's water supply will plummet to 200 million litres of water a day and bring severe water restrictions.

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Stage 1 applies to the ban on using hoses and water blasters outdoor, a call for four-minute showers and a 410 litres a day usage target that came into effect on May 16.

Stage 2 will be similar, but people must save 20 litres of water a day indoors and businesses must cut water use by at least 10 per cent.

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Stage 3 increases the indoor savings to 30 litres per person and at least a 15 per cent cut to business usage.

At Stage 4, the savings per person increases to 40 litres a day and at least a 30 per cent cut in water use by businesses. Lawns, gardens and parks can only be watered by non-potable (drinking) water at Level 3 and Level 4.

A Watercare spokeswoman said there are no plans to remove the water restrictions or transition to Stage 2, saying the target for June of 410 litres per day or less is being met.

The restrictions will cover suburban Auckland from Waiwera to Drury, as well as Pukekohe, Patumahoe, Clarks Beach, Glenbrook Beach and Huia Village. They are expected to be in place until Autumn 2021.

Watercare chief Raveen Jaduram. Photo / Michael Craig
Watercare chief Raveen Jaduram. Photo / Michael Craig

A new communication plan drawn up by Watercare shows how people can make the savings. For example, spending a minute less in the shower saves 12 litres of water, turning off the water when you brush your teeth saves four litres, fixing a leaking tap saves 33 litres a day and using a half-flush in the toilet saves about six litres.

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If Aucklanders fail to make the necessary savings or there is a failure in the supply of water from the Waikato River, Watercare is leaving open the option of turning off the taps and making people line up for water at hydrants.

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram told Auckland councillors today that if the drought continues with little rain until summer there will be about 200 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River (170m litres) and the Onehunga spring (about 20m litres). Normal usage of water in summer is about 560m litres.