Wellington metropolitan region moving to Level 2 Water Restrictions
Wellington City, Porirua City, Hutt City, and Upper Hutt City will move to Level 2 Water Restrictions at 12.01am on Wednesday 17 January, meaning a ban on sprinklers and irrigation systems for residential households.
The ban applies to all irrigations systems, soaker hoses, and unattended watering systems. Residents can still water their garden by hand (e.g. a garden hose) at any time, on any day, so long as this is not left unattended.
This decision has been made due to very high demand, peaking at 195 million litres on Tuesday 9 January. We expect demand to increase further in the coming weeks without intervention, with temperatures increasing and more people returning from their holidays elsewhere (demand historically increases significantly following Wellington Anniversary weekend). There are some brief periods of rainfall on the weather forecast but this is unlikely to help the situation.
The region’s water treatment plants can only treat and supply a certain amount of safe drinking water on any given day. The increase in demand, paired with the ongoing high number of leaks is putting pressure on the network and the ability to supply enough safe drinking water to meet demand.
“Councils in the metropolitan region have made the decision to put in place Level 2 Water Restrictions now to help reduce water demand and reduce the risk of having more severe, longer water restrictions later on,” says Laurence Edwards, Chief Advisor Drinking Water, Network Development & Delivery.
“The restrictions apply to residential properties only. However, we do ask that businesses across the district take steps to reduce their water usage where possible. We are working with our client councils to provide guidance for non-residential customers, including on the restrictions that may apply at Level 3 and 4. If we all do our bit, then we can hopefully avoid further restrictions.”
“We also want to assure residents that we are continuing to find and fix as many leaks as we can within the funding and resources we have available – our crews are out there every day working on leaks,” says Laurence Edwards, Chief Advisor Drinking Water, Network Development & Delivery.
Wellington Water continues to closely monitor the situation and work closely with councils regarding the risk of further water restrictions this summer. We will keep the public informed if the situation changes.
“In the meantime, we encourage everyone to make simple changes to reduce their water use. Small changes such as taking shorter showers (no more than 4 minutes), not running the tap while brushing your teeth, and only doing full loads of washing can all make a real difference.”
For more helpful water saving tips, visit Wellington Water’s website: https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/water-conservation/water-calculator/
Please note that the South Wairarapa district remains on Level 2 Water Restrictions. South Wairarapa District runs on a separate drinking water network from the metropolitan Wellington region.
Water Restrictions – what they mean for residents
- No irrigation or sprinklers
- Water your garden by hand only at any time so long as it’s not unattended
- Stop all outdoor water use.
- Consider using less water indoors
- Businesses encouraged to be pragmatic and responsible
- Significantly reduce indoor water use - by up to 50% - to ensure there is enough water for everyone
- Stop all outdoor water use.
- Business to also significantly reduce water use
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Notes to the Editor
Water use in metropolitan Wellington is at an all-time high due to a combination of increasing leaks in the network, population growth, and high use by consumers.
Our region’s drinking water supply system has a finite capacity. We can only treat and supply a certain amount of safe drinking water on any given day. This includes a “buffer” that allows for varying levels in daily water usage, unplanned outages, or planned maintenance work.
The increase in leaks in the network means the available ‘buffer’ is becoming increasingly tight, particularly over the summer when water supply is lower. This means that if we experience an average summer this year (e.g. without significant rainfall) then our councils will have to put in place tighter water restrictions for longer periods of time to avoid the risk of an acute water shortage (e.g. asking the public to restrict their indoor water use, what we call "Level 4 Water Restrictions”) this year.
Leaks are principally a problem of the age of the pipes– old pipes burst and leak more often and some of the pipes in our region are 100 or more years old. There is a significant backlog of renewals (replacing old pipes) across the region as investment into replacing pipes has historically not kept pace with the number of pipes nearing and exceeding the end of their operational lives.
Find out more about how we prioritise our work on leaks: https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/water-conservation/leaks/
We are doing all we can at Wellington Water to optimise our activities within current funding and prepare for the possibility of a water shortage this summer. We are well underway on a project to increase the capacity of the Te Mārua Water Treatment Plant, and we are pivoting as much of our funding, team and resources into managing water loss as we can.
However, Wellington Water is unable to mitigate the risk of an acute water shortage with the current capacity to treat and store water, the state of the network and with current funding and resourcing levels.
We have developed a plan to respond to this summer’s risk of a water shortage and tighter water restrictions. This can be viewed here - https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/assets/Our-plan-for-this-summers-acute-water-shortage-Jan-2024-v3.pdf
We are also providing our council owners and the public with regular updates on how we are tracking this summer and the likelihood of the need to move up in restriction levels. Our latest update can be viewed here.
Wellington Water is 100% owned and funded by the Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington City Councils, South Wairarapa District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council. We provide water services to the region on behalf of our councils.
The decision and authority to enforce water restrictions sits with councils, who consider Wellington Water’s advice on water shortage risk. This is set out in their individual bylaws. Our councils ask us to act on their behalf to notify the public of water restrictions.
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.