Aucklanders can take pride in being the wisest, best and most efficient users of water in the country.
We are environmental paragons able to look down our conservationist noses at a wasteful world around us.
The wastrels in Invercargill use twice as much per head. Bossy Wellingtonians use 50 per cent more. Those Wellingtonians might take the train to their bureaucrat offices but they don't have a care for that most precious resource.
We are the careful ones because our water is metered. Leaks get fixed and not for us the hose left on without a thought. Metering is the greenest of policies and Aucklanders lead the way.
Auckland is also the most attractive city. We are growing. We are expected to add a Wellington every 10 years, an Invercargill every two.
And so, despite our conservationist care, Auckland needs more water.
The cheapest and best source is Waikato River. The Waikato now provides about 15 per cent of Auckland's water needs; the dams 80 per cent and the Onehunga aquifer 5 per cent.
Watercare has a water right to take 150,000cu m a day from the Waikato at Tuakau. To meet forecast growth through to 2050, Watercare has applied to take another 200,000cu m a day.
The next best option after the Waikato is desalination. That costs five times as much.
It's a no-brainer.
The Waikato won't be run dry. The take won't even be noticed.
Waikato's depth at Tuakau is 6m with a half-metre tide. Taking 200,000cu m a day will drop the level 15-22mm. It's nothing. No one will notice. Not the birds nor the fish.
The water flows past Tuakau and the next day is in the ocean.
The other option is to let that 200,000cu m flow each day out to sea. And then consume a great deal of energy and belch truckloads of greenhouse gas, taking out the salt. Far better to grab it a day early while it's still fresh than pay the $200,000 a day needed to take out the salt.
But watch. There's a consent to be obtained. This will take years and cost millions. The usual suspects will object. There will be cultural values affected and to be compensated for. There might even be a taniwha or two lurking about who needs soothing.
Everyone wanting to be heard must be heard. And no matter how crackpot their ideas, they must be taken seriously.
Lawyers, experts, cultural advisers and planners will be making careers over a consent that should be decided over a cup of tea and a pack of gingernuts.
We must be a rich country indeed to spend so much time and resource to decide the blindingly obvious.
The biggest waste of resources is not Aucklanders with Waikato water.
It's the Resource Management Act and the Byzantine processes that we must follow to get the water.
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