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Published 16/03/2017

Auckland’s water crisis – can it happen here?

Auckland’s current water crisis begs the question, could a severe weather event result in a similar problem for our area? Thankfully, the answer is that it’s unlikely due to how we source and manage our water.

Wellington Water supplies water to the cities of Lower Hutt, Wellington, Upper Hutt and Porirua. The water supplied comes from three sources: the Hutt River, the combined flow of the Wainuiomata and Orongorongo rivers and the Waiwhetu Aquifer - a natural underground reservoir that’s fed by river-water filtered through the ground. There’s also the Macaskill Lakes, which act as a back-up to the Hutt River supply.

Water from the lakes is used when there is not enough water in the rivers to meet public demand, or when the river is too dirty (after heavy rainfall) or in flood and the intake needs to be closed to prevent rocks and gravel from entering the intake pipes.

“While heavy rain can make the water in our rivers too dirty to treat, we’re lucky that we can stop taking water from the rivers and instead take water from the Macaskill Lakes, and increase the amount of water being supplied from the Waiwhetu Aquifer” says David Bassett, Wellington Water Committee Chair.

“So it’s unlikely that we’ll face the same scenario that Aucklanders are currently dealing with” says David. “Our water supply network is constantly monitored so that we can be assured that the water that we’re supplied is safe to drink”.

  • The Macaskill Lakes have a combined useable capacity of 3,350 million litres of water
  • The aquifer can sustainably supply about 80 million litres of water a day
  • Regional water usage is about 140 million litres a day
  • If the rivers were unavailable, the aquifer and lakes together are able to provide the region with enough water while the rivers clear up

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