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Published 13/11/2023

Residents in the Wellington region warned of a water shortage this summer

Residents in the Wellington region will wake up to signs and warnings across the region about a risk of a water shortage this summer. This is part of a big push from councils and Wellington Water to prepare residents for the possibility of tighter water restrictions in the following months.

“We’re using and losing more water than ever before,” says Wellington Water Chief Executive Tonia Haskell. “The combination of increasing leaks, population growth and relatively high use in comparison to other metropolitan cities in New Zealand, means the risk of a water shortage is real – even in an average summer.

“We’re doing all we can at Wellington Water to respond to this year’s risk with the current funding and resources available. Add to the mix the current predictions of a dry and hot El Niño weather pattern, and we’re looking down the barrel of what could be a tricky summer.”

“It’s a risk the region’s mayors and councillors are taking very seriously,” says Water Committee Chair and Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry.

“Water use goes up in summer, and our river levels go down. There’s only a certain amount that can be supplied each day. We have some back up water stored across the region but if we all keep using a lot of water then we could use too much of our back up supply too quickly – leaving us more vulnerable as summer goes on.

“The only effective tool we have this summer is for everyone to play their part and look at reducing our day-to-day water use.”

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker agrees, “We’ve got to get ready. People don’t realise we’ve narrowly avoided Level 3 (a total outdoor water ban) or 4 water restrictions (heavy restrictions on indoor use) these past two summers because of cyclones Devi and Gabrielle bringing significant rain. This summer looks different. We could have to ask people to significantly reduce their indoor water use at short notice.”

“Residents can start making small simple changes to their behaviour now. Little changes such as taking shorter showers

The Wellington region is currently on Level 1, which means splitting sprinkler use between odd and even-numbered houses each day. A move up to Level 2 would see all sprinkler use being stopped and only watering gardens by hand. Level 3 is a total outdoor ban and Level 4 would see residents being asked to significantly reduce their indoor water use as well as a ban on all outdoor water use. If each water restriction level is followed, it reduces the risk of going up a level.

Residents can also get prepared by storing emergency water at their place, according to the Wellington Region’s Emergency Management Office’s emergency guidelines.

 “Having water stored at home is a simple way for people to make sure there’s enough for their whānau if we do have to go up the levels and ensure we’re all doing what we can to be resilient in the face of emergencies and natural disasters.”

Wellington Water and councils are closely monitoring the situation this summer and will provide regular updates to the public if a move up a level in water restrictions is needed.

In the meantime, details on water restrictions and what people need to do now to save water is available on Wellington Water’s website.

Those looking for more information about their household’s water use can check out our water use calculator. You can also check out the levels of water use for your city here.

Editor notes

Wellington Water is owned and fully funded by Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council, and Upper Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and South Wairarapa District Council. All six councils are equal shareholders.

Our councils own the water infrastructure in the region, and they task us to manage the infrastructure and deliver water services to our communities.

Wellington Water is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board and our organisation receive overall leadership and direction from the Wellington Water Committee, which are also responsible for appointing members to the Board.

The Wellington Water Committee is made up of representatives from our council owners and mana whenua.

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