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Published 9/06/2023

Wellington Water warns of potential water shortages next summer

Wellington Water is warning that if there is an average rainfall summer this year, it is likely the region will face water shortages.

In a report to the Water Committee, Wellington Water says water use in the metropolitan region is at an all-time high, principally due to water loss from leaks and high use.

‘This is a sobering report that highlights the need for a comprehensive approach if we are to avoid severe water restrictions and possibly even rationing this summer and in future years,’ says Campbell Barry, Chair of the Wellington Water Committee.

‘We only avoided severe restrictions this past summer because we had unusual levels of summer rainfall as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle.’

‘Water is a taonga.  We all need to look at how much we use, while Wellington Water needs to also focus on managing the water that is lost from the network through leaks,” says Campbell.

Wellington Water Chief Executive Tonia Haskell says the company is developing a plan that will use the funding provided by Councils to minimise water loss in the next 9-12 months.  It also looks at getting long-term approaches underway.

The Water Loss Reduction Plan, undertaken within current funding, will include:

  • A focus on increasing the speed and quality of our repairs
  • Continuing to survey the network, find leaks and undertake investigations to identify and mitigate causes of leaks
  • Identifying additional areas where we can reduce water pressure to prevent leaks and reduce the water loss when they do occur
  • renewals of pipes and service connections known to be major leak sources, and
  • Continued communications, engagement and public education.


‘However, it’s important that we all understand that these measures will only partially reduce the risk for this summer. Despite the hard work our crews have been putting in finding and fixing leaks on the public network, we simply can’t keep up with the water loss across the network within current funding levels and resources,’ she says.

‘We’re committed to ensuring we’re working with maximum effectiveness as we deal with the effects of historic under-investment, aging infrastructure and a backlog of renewals and repairs.

‘We have proposed to the Water Committee that a regionally coordinated approach is needed. In our view there are three pillars – increased investment in water loss management; introducing the ability to measure domestic water use through greater use of meters; and investment in additional storage lakes,’ Tonia says.

“There’s no doubt that the risk highlighted by Wellington Water is concerning for all councils in the metropolitan region,” says Campbell.

“We are all doing what we can to mitigate this within the funding that we have available. The Committee has asked Wellington Water to monitor the situation closely, to report back regularly and provide recommendations on what actions may be needed as we head into the warmer months.”


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. 

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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