Residential garden watering restrictions

Why are there residential garden watering restrictions?
Residential garden watering restrictions relate to council bylaws that seek to reduce demand around the region over the summer months - as supply generally decreases and consumption (in particular outdoor watering) increases.

We rely on rivers and the Waiwhetu Aquifer for our regular water supply, and conditions can change quickly. While we do have the Te Marua storage lakes as back-up, these have to get us through the whole summer

Their introduction and enforcement is tied to daylight saving months in Lower Hutt, Porirua and Wellington. They are in place all year round in Upper Hutt.

Can I still water my garden during garden watering restrictions?
Yes, you can use a single watering system (sprinkler, irrigation system, soaker hose, or unattended hose) between 6-8am and 7-9pm, on allocated watering days (odds/evens).

We recommend using a hand held trigger nozzle fitted to a garden-hose, or watering can.

Can I still wash my car?
Yes, we recommend washing your car on the lawn so that any run off is absorbed. Using a bucket/sponge and a trigger nozzle on a hose is best.

My neighbour is using their sprinkler – should they be?
They are allowed to use a single watering system (sprinkler, irrigation system, soaker hose, or unattended hose) between 6-8am and 7-9pm, on allocated watering days (odds/evens).
If you are concerned about their watering, you can report it to your local council.

The golf club/bowling club/sports club/council is still watering their lawn during the day, is that right?
The residential garden watering restrictions apply to residential properties only. It does not apply to sports clubs that are used by the public or commercial businesses and in this situation they are exempt.
Some golf courses and sport grounds have their own bores that they get their water from, which means they are not using mains water.

It is a difficult challenge – as our councils want to play their part in conserving water as much as possible, but at the same time they don’t want our parks and gardens to die, as it would mean that the grass would need to be resown next autumn. This would put winter sports at risk and cost ratepayers large amounts of money to repair community assets.

We are aware that councils take steps to conserve water, such as watering at night so the soil better retains the moisture.

If you have any concerns about unattended watering of council facilities, please contact your local council.

My business relies on outdoor water use (house cleaners, nurseries, etc.), what can I do?
You can continue to operate as normal; however, we ask that you are pragmatic and responsible when watering.

Why are there restrictions when we’ve had so much rain during winter?
There are a number of reasons why garden watering restrictions are in place.

1. Demand for water during daylight saving months increases, as people use more water outdoors in their gardens. The warmer, dryer conditions also means that river levels drop and supply from rivers goes down.

2. There are a limited number of reservoirs in the metropolitan Wellington region (and we have two storage lakes at Te Maura), once these are full it doesn't matter how much it rains during winter they cannot collect any more water. This stored water needs to last the whole summer.

3. There may be necessary repair or upgrade work being done to some of our treatment plants to make sure we are able to supply safe drinking-water.

Garden watering restrictions start during daylight saving months to help conserve water in preparation for the peak of Summer, when we would likely need to use water from the storage lakes (Jan/Feb/March).

I received a flyer in the mail about odd/even garden watering restrictions between 6-8am and 7-9pm — what does this mean?
Every summer during daylight saving months there are garden watering restrictions around the region (and all year round for Upper Hutt). These are base level restrictions that help us manage our summer demand.

Additional restrictions can be imposed, such as a sprinkler ban, depending on demand/supply around the region.

Can the kids still play in the sprinkler?
Technically yes, between 6-8am and 7-9pm, on the odd/even day of the month, depending on your house number.
We recommend you visit one of our regions fantastic local pools, beaches or swimming spots instead. Or alternatively, consider playing with water balloons and other water toys, as they do not use as much water.

Can I still fill my pool?
Yes, you can fill it with an unattended watering system or hose between 6-8am and 7-9pm, on the odd/even day of the month, depending on your house number.
You could also use some of the fantastic outdoor facilities that some of the public pools have as an alternative.
Councils may have summer deals or extended opening hours for their pools during summer months.
Check your local council's website for pool opening hours and deals.

Can I still waterblast my house?
Yes, however we do ask that you consider holding off on water-blasting until a later date if possible (when garden watering restrictions are not in place), or only use it carefully and when necessary (i.e. not for sweeping the driveway).

If we need to increase restrictions as summer rolls on, then all domestic outdoor water use could be banned – so that would mean no DIY water-blasting.

What are some other ways that I can water my garden?
You can collect water in a rainwater tank, or you can water your garden with grey water collected from your bath, shower, washing machine or kitchen sink.
If you do use grey water, check to make sure your detergents are biodegradable - Ministry for Environment advice on choosing products for use in grey water systems is to use ‘appropriate soaps and detergents – avoid washing powders that whiten or have enzymes, and avoid detergents or cleaners containing boron.’

We've had several days of rain recently, why are garden watering restriction still in place?
There are a number of reasons garden watering restrictions do not get lifted after a few days of rainfall. Garden watering restrictions are in place for the duration of daylight saving months to help conserve water in preparation for the peak of Summer when we would likely need to use water from the storage lakes (Jan/Feb/March).

Rainfall can replenish short-term supply but we need to ensure there will be enough stored water to meet long-term demand, in case of future drought conditions.

Also, when there is a heavy rainfall the water becomes turbid and cannot be diverted into the intake. We have to wait for the debris and sediment in the water to settle before we can divert it. This means a big downpour does not immediately replenish our supply, and by the time the sediments settle the water may have receded.

We need to look after our water so we can enjoy it all summer long.


Click here for tips on how to conserve water around your home.