These FAQs cover off questions we get regarding water restriction levels.
For sprinkler ban specific information, check out this page: No sprinklers allowed. What can I do?
How do I know when I can water my garden?
To find out what level you are in, go to our water restrictions page.
What are the water restriction levels?
Water Restriction Level 1 - Use sprinklers every other day
Outdoor water restrictions start at Level 1. If you live in an even numbered house, you can use sprinklers or irrigation systems only on even numbered days between 6-8am and 7-9pm. If you live in an odd numbered house, the same rules apply for odd numbered days.
You can use handheld watering devices any time, on any day, so long as you don’t leave them unattended.
Water restriction Level 1 applies all year round for Upper Hutt and South Wairarapa (Martinborough, Greytown and Featherston). Level 1 applies during Daylight Saving months (September - April) for Lower Hutt, Wellington City and Porirua.
Water Restriction Level 2 - Limit residential outdoor water use
Water restriction Level 2 means there is a ban on sprinklers and irrigation systems. You can use handheld watering devices anytime, on any day, so long as you don’t leave them unattended.
Water Restriction Level 3 - Stop residential outdoor water use
Water restriction Level 3 means there is a ban on all residential outdoor water use.
Water Restriction Level 4 - Ban on outdoor water use, reduce indoor water use
Water Restriction Level 4 means there is a ban on all outdoor water use, and we need to reduce our indoor water use.
Can I still water my garden during Water Restriction Level 2 (sprinkler ban)?
Yes, you can still water your garden using a handheld device only, any time of day, so long as you don't leave it unattended. Water Restriction Level 2 means there is a ban on sprinklers and irrigation systems.
Can I still wash my car?
Yes. We recommend washing your car using a bucket and sponge on the lawn so that any run-off is absorbed into the ground.
My neighbour is using their sprinkler – should they be?
You are allowed to use a sprinkler or irrigation system during Water Restriction Level 1, only on allocated days and times. During level's 2 and 3, sprinklers and irrigation systems are banned. If you are concerned about their watering, you can contact your local council.
The golf club/bowling club/sports club/council is still watering their lawn during the day, is that right?
Water restriction levels 1, 2 and 3 apply to residential properties only. They do not apply to sports clubs 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.
Councils take steps to conserve water during summer, such as watering at night so the soil better retains the moisture. 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 re-sown next autumn. This would put winter sports at risk and cost ratepayers large amounts of money to repair community assets.
If you have any concerns about unattended watering of council facilities, please contact your local council.
Why should we follow restrictions when there are leaks that haven’t been fixed?
We are aware that leaks have an impact on water usage in the network, and we continue to work hard to locate and fix them as quickly as resources allow. However, following outdoor water restrictions, and conserving water where you can, makes the biggest impact on the level of demand.
We prioritise leaks into three categories:
- P1 and P2 leaks are bursts and leaks that affect water supply to customers (e.g. leaving people without water)
- P3 leaks that do not directly affect service to customers.
We attend to the P1s and P2s first, and acknowledge we may fall behind attending to P3 leaks – which the public may have reported. When this occurs we look to:
- Re-prioritise P3 leaks when they affect service to customers
- Add extra resources and extending hours where possible
- Mark leaks to show they have been assessed prior to repair – to reduce the number of double-up calls.
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 outdoor water restrictions are in place.
- 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.
- There are a limited number of reservoirs in the metropolitan Wellington region (and we have two storage lakes at Te Marua), and 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.
- 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 that can also impact on supply availability. Outdoor water restrictions are in place across Wellington during daylight saving months to help conserve water in preparation for the peak of Summer, when we normally need to use water from the storage lakes (typically late Jan/Feb/March, and into April).
Can the kids still play in the sprinkler?
At Water Restriction Level 1, kids can play in the sprinkler between 6-8am and 7-9pm (in metropolitan Wellington) 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 other water toys that do not use as much water. At level 2 and above, sprinklers are banned.
Can I still fill my pool?
At Water Restriction Level 1 you can fill your pool with an unattended watering system or hose between 6-8am and 7-9pm (in metropolitan Wellington), 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?
We do ask you consider holding off on water-blasting until a later date if possible (when outdoor water 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 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 outdoor water restrictions still in place?
There are a number of reasons outdoor water restrictions do not get lifted after a few days of rainfall. Outdoor water 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 (typically late Jan/Feb/March, and into April ). 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 out, the water may have receded.
What’s the point in restrictions if companies can bottle our water and sell it overseas?
Water bottling companies have their own supply bores and do not draw down the public supply. The resource consents limit the impact on the public supply.
You can find out more about how freshwater is managed across the region here https://www.gw.govt.nz/water-bottling-consents/
Click here for tips on how to conserve water around your home.