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Help Desk

Help Desk

I see we’ve got water restrictions in place. What restrictions apply to me?

Here’s where you can see what water restrictions apply in your area and what this means for you.

How can you ask me to restrict my water use, when we’re losing so much water because of leaks?

Finding and fixing leaks is one of our top priorities, but with the resources available to us we can’t fix them all. We’re working on the issue, but it won’t happen overnight – and summer is almost here. The risk of a water shortage this summer and tighter water restrictions is real, and the situation may shift quickly.

To ensure there’s enough water to go around for the necessities, we need everyone to do their bit. Water restrictions help people understand how they can best save water at their place, and when to do so. If people follow the restrictions, it reduces the chance of moving to higher levels.

Water restrictions are enforced through council bylaws. Wellington Water recommend the level of restrictions for our council owners to implement.

Why is this summer more serious than previous summers?

Over the past two summers, there has been a real risk of tighter water restrictions – but they’ve been narrowly avoided thanks to substantial and unusual rainfall in summer because of ex-tropical cyclones Dovi and Gabrielle. We can’t assume that this will happen again. El Niño conditions are forecast, and we’re expecting a hotter, drier summer than the previous two.

This combination of increasing leaks, population growth, above average water use, and forecast El Niño conditions all increase the risk of tighter water restrictions.

We’ve had all this rain, how could tighter water restrictions be on the cards?

Rain helps us fill the storage lakes during winter, so we can use it during summer when river levels drop. But this storage has a limit – once it’s full, it’s full, and more rain in winter doesn’t change that.

We’re only able to take water from the rivers when they’re above a certain water level. But heavy rain can be just as bad as not enough! When there’s short bursts of heavy rain, it can fill rivers with dirt, sticks and debris. This makes it harder to treat (make safe to drink) and risks blocking the pipe and tunnels that supply the treatment plants. This means that sudden downpours are much less helpful than they seem.

Currently, the two storage lakes (the Macaskill Lakes, at Te Mārua) store up to 3.35 billion litres of water – enough to supplement supply for 2 – 3 months in summer. Wellington Water and our council owners are progressing plans to increase the available water storage.

Why is there a risk of a water shortage this summer?

Our modelling shows that if we have an average summer – meaning no significant rainfall – our councils will have to put tighter water restrictions in place to reduce the risk of an acute water shortage.

This comes down to water demand and supply capacity. Water use in the metropolitan Wellington region is at an all-time high. Leaks are increasing due to the water network being old, population growth is driving up the demand for water and Wellingtonian’s simply use more water than comparable regions.

We also have a finite amount of water we can treat and supply on any given day. This includes a “buffer” that allows for varying levels in daily water usage, unplanned outages, or planned maintenance work. However, the increase in leaks in the network means the available ‘buffer’ is becoming increasingly tight.

In winter, when there is plenty of rain and the river levels are healthy, we can supply up to about 220 million litres of water per day.

But in summer, when it’s hot and dry and river levels drop, this can go down to about 170 million litres of water per day.

170 million litres might sound like a lot, but Wellington is using and losing more water than ever before – often getting up to 205 million litres per day in summer!

You can see that those numbers don’t work. When demand is higher than the available supply from the rivers and aquifer, then we have to dip into the water stored in the storage lakes. But this stored water is precious and is critical for getting through a long dry period, and in summer it’s harder to refill the lakes. So over time, they get lower and lower, leaving Wellington with less and less water stored and available until next winter.

What’s the point of water restrictions?

Wellington’s daily water supply has a limit, as the treatment plants can only supply so much. If demand exceeds what the treatment plants can supply there’s a risk that the water levels in the storage reservoirs across the region are drawn down too low, causing water quality issues and in an extreme scenario even depressurising areas of the network. This can be dangerous as it increases the risk of contamination of drinking water, and boil water notices may need to be issued to stop people getting sick.

This means we have to be very careful to manage the daily water supply and demand, and don’t use too much. That’s where water restrictions come in. They help everyone understand how they can best manage their personal water use, so there’s enough to go round for the necessities.

Level 1 splits outdoor water use between odd and even houses, to spread the load of daily water demand. This means people can water their gardens regularly without everyone using a lot of water all at once. It also reduces waste by restricting watering to the morning and evening, when water is less likely to evaporate in the heat of the day.

Level 2 makes sure people are watering their gardens only when they really need to, with no sprinklers or irrigation systems, and only watering gardens by hand.

Level 3 comes into play when we need to take serious action, and all residential outdoor water use must be stopped. We know that people put a lot of hard mahi and love into their gardens, so consider using grey water to water your garden – just not your vegetables, or any plants you’re planning on eating.

Level 4 means we’re in a significant water shortage. On top of stopping all outdoor water use, we must reduce indoor use. This could include 2-minute showers and reducing laundry to one load per person, per week.

Water Restrictions

Can I still waterblast my house during a sprinkler ban?

Yes – attended hand-held hosing (including water blasting) is still ok.

We do ask that you consider holding off on water blasting until a later date if possible, 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 would be banned – so that would mean no DIY water blasting.

I see we’ve got water restrictions in place. What restrictions apply to me?

Here’s where you can see what water restrictions apply in your area and what this means for you.

Why is there a risk of a water shortage this summer?

Our modelling shows that if we have an average summer – meaning no significant rainfall – our councils will have to put tighter water restrictions in place to reduce the risk of an acute water shortage.

This comes down to water demand and supply capacity. Water use in the metropolitan Wellington region is at an all-time high. Leaks are increasing due to the water network being old, population growth is driving up the demand for water and Wellingtonian’s simply use more water than comparable regions.

We also have a finite amount of water we can treat and supply on any given day. This includes a “buffer” that allows for varying levels in daily water usage, unplanned outages, or planned maintenance work. However, the increase in leaks in the network means the available ‘buffer’ is becoming increasingly tight.

In winter, when there is plenty of rain and the river levels are healthy, we can supply up to about 220 million litres of water per day.

But in summer, when it’s hot and dry and river levels drop, this can go down to about 170 million litres of water per day.

170 million litres might sound like a lot, but Wellington is using and losing more water than ever before – often getting up to 205 million litres per day in summer!

You can see that those numbers don’t work. When demand is higher than the available supply from the rivers and aquifer, then we have to dip into the water stored in the storage lakes. But this stored water is precious and is critical for getting through a long dry period, and in summer it’s harder to refill the lakes. So over time, they get lower and lower, leaving Wellington with less and less water stored and available until next winter.

We’ve had all this rain, how could tighter water restrictions be on the cards?

Rain helps us fill the storage lakes during winter, so we can use it during summer when river levels drop. But this storage has a limit – once it’s full, it’s full, and more rain in winter doesn’t change that.

We’re only able to take water from the rivers when they’re above a certain water level. But heavy rain can be just as bad as not enough! When there’s short bursts of heavy rain, it can fill rivers with dirt, sticks and debris. This makes it harder to treat (make safe to drink) and risks blocking the pipe and tunnels that supply the treatment plants. This means that sudden downpours are much less helpful than they seem.

Currently, the two storage lakes (the Macaskill Lakes, at Te Mārua) store up to 3.35 billion litres of water – enough to supplement supply for 2 – 3 months in summer. Wellington Water and our council owners are progressing plans to increase the available water storage.

Why is this summer more serious than previous summers?

Over the past two summers, there has been a real risk of tighter water restrictions – but they’ve been narrowly avoided thanks to substantial and unusual rainfall in summer because of ex-tropical cyclones Dovi and Gabrielle. We can’t assume that this will happen again. El Niño conditions are forecast, and we’re expecting a hotter, drier summer than the previous two.

This combination of increasing leaks, population growth, above average water use, and forecast El Niño conditions all increase the risk of tighter water restrictions.

How can you ask me to restrict my water use, when we’re losing so much water because of leaks?

Finding and fixing leaks is one of our top priorities, but with the resources available to us we can’t fix them all. We’re working on the issue, but it won’t happen overnight – and summer is almost here. The risk of a water shortage this summer and tighter water restrictions is real, and the situation may shift quickly.

To ensure there’s enough water to go around for the necessities, we need everyone to do their bit. Water restrictions help people understand how they can best save water at their place, and when to do so. If people follow the restrictions, it reduces the chance of moving to higher levels.

Water restrictions are enforced through council bylaws. Wellington Water recommend the level of restrictions for our council owners to implement.

Can I still wash my car during a sprinkler ban?

Yes you can, by hand — we recommend using a bucket and a trigger nozzle on a hose.

How do water restrictions affect my business?

We know you’re keen to play your part to reduce the risk of tighter water restrictions this summer - so we’ve created some simple guidelines to help you reduce water use and continue to operate under each water restriction level.

These guidelines are recommendations only, and since water use varies from industry to industry and even business to business, we know it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

That’s why it’s key for each business to look at the ways they use water, and make sensible choices to make sure it’s as efficient as possible.
If you’re keen to learn more, take a look under the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ section WellingtonWater.co.nz/our-wai-can-run-dry or https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/assets/Reports-and-Publications/Key-Guidelines-for-Non-Residential-Water-Restrictions.pdf

Please note that each local council has specific by-laws and the power to impose specific restrictions as required. For more information on your council’s by-laws, please reach out to them directly.

How often is Wellington Water assessing the available water levels? How low do our reserves have to go before a move to Level 3 restrictions?

Our drought management group meets weekly to review risk factors including system demand, source availability and treatment plant capacity. The reserve levels aren’t the only factor that determines which level of water restrictions we move to, there are a range of risk factors that are considered before arriving at a decision on the recommended restriction level.

However as a guide, if our buffer between what we can supply and system demand (ie. what we are using and losing) is forecast to get below 10% we will be considering a recommendation for the metropolitan region (Wellington City, Porirua, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt) to move to level 3 restrictions.

What will happen if we run out of water?

We have emergency plans in place and will work alongside our council owners and WREMO (Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office) to provide emergency water to residents.



We encourage people to be prepared at home too, by having their own storage of emergency water. This is also really important to prepare for a significant earthquake that could happen at any time.



You can read more here https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/emergency-water-3/on our Emergency Water page.

Can the kids still play in the sprinkler?

No. Sprinkler use is banned. But you can spray them with the hose, and play with water balloons.

If we’re being told to conserve water, can I fill up my emergency water tank?

It’s important for all households to store water in case of an emergency. We encourage all households to fill their emergency water tanks while restrictions aren’t in place or during Levels 1 and 2, so it is ready for use in tighter water restriction levels or in case of an emergency. No water restriction level directly restricts filling up your emergency water tank. We do ask you to be sensible and responsible with your water use, particularly under the higher levels.

Can I water my vegetable garden under Level 3 and 4?

Under Levels 3 and 4 there is a ban on all outdoor water use. However, we appreciate that vegetable gardens are a vital source of food for many households. Watering of vegetable gardens is permitted using a watering can or bucket. This helps reduce unnecessary water use and to keep water used to a minimum. Please restrict your water use to only what is needed to sustain your vegetable garden, and use the watering can or bucket before 8am or after 7pm to minimise evaporation and make the best use of the water for your vegetables.

Can you please explain how the buffer system works?

Our sources are known as ‘run of river’ - this means that when the river levels drop during summer, our available supply decreases, at the same time as demand increases with the warmer and drier weather.

When river levels drop too low the Wainuiomata treatment plant cannot continue to supply water, and the Te Marua treatment plant can only run on water stored in the Macaskill Lakes.  The region then relies on the storage in the lakes and the water available from the Waiwhetu aquifer to get through until river levels are restored to healthy conditions.

The 'buffer' (sometimes referred to as ‘headroom’) refers to the space between the absolute maximum we can supply, and the amount we are using and losing to leaks. This concept helps people understand how tight things are getting as treatment plant output capacity reduces and demand increases.

Low buffer levels mean that water supply is more vulnerable, because if there is an unforeseen asset failure (for example a major burst pipe, or a pump failure) this could tip the balance of water available in our treated water reservoirs below the red line. The risk here is that the water levels drop to dangerously low levels.

Can I still fill my pool during a sprinkler ban?

Yes, but you must be holding the hose as it fills the pool – any unattended watering is not permitted.

We do however ask you to consider using 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.

Why is my local club/council watering their lawn?

The residential sprinkler ban applies to residential properties only. It does not apply to sports clubs that are used by the public, or someone’s commercial business (which is their livelihood) and in this situation they are exempt.

If smart meters are the solution to the problem, why don’t we have these in place to prevent a water shortage?

The decision to install residential smart water meters is one that sits with our council owners.

Investment in smart meters is one of the three key things we’ve recommended to help solve the increasing water shortage issue and provide a sustainable water supply for the region.

Implementing universal smart water meters is an industry best-practice tool for reducing leaks and managing water loss in both the private and public networks. They can also help residents understand and manage their water use. 

Can I use grey water to water my garden?

Please see Te Whatu Ora's website for advice on grey water.

Do not use grey water on any vegetables, fruits, herbs, or any area of the garden that contains plants you intend on eating.

What’s the point of water restrictions?

Wellington’s daily water supply has a limit, as the treatment plants can only supply so much. If demand exceeds what the treatment plants can supply there’s a risk that the water levels in the storage reservoirs across the region are drawn down too low, causing water quality issues and in an extreme scenario even depressurising areas of the network. This can be dangerous as it increases the risk of contamination of drinking water, and boil water notices may need to be issued to stop people getting sick.

This means we have to be very careful to manage the daily water supply and demand, and don’t use too much. That’s where water restrictions come in. They help everyone understand how they can best manage their personal water use, so there’s enough to go round for the necessities.

Level 1 splits outdoor water use between odd and even houses, to spread the load of daily water demand. This means people can water their gardens regularly without everyone using a lot of water all at once. It also reduces waste by restricting watering to the morning and evening, when water is less likely to evaporate in the heat of the day.

Level 2 makes sure people are watering their gardens only when they really need to, with no sprinklers or irrigation systems, and only watering gardens by hand.

Level 3 comes into play when we need to take serious action, and all residential outdoor water use must be stopped. We know that people put a lot of hard mahi and love into their gardens, so consider using grey water to water your garden – just not your vegetables, or any plants you’re planning on eating.

Level 4 means we’re in a significant water shortage. On top of stopping all outdoor water use, we must reduce indoor use. This could include 2-minute showers and reducing laundry to one load per person, per week.

The leaks in my council area aren't as bad as some others - so I'll be fine, right?

All of the water supplied to Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua is treated at one of four treatment plants before being distributed throughout the network. The network and treatment plants are interconnected, and this means all areas supplied by the treatment plants have an impact on the overall system performance and how much water there is to go around for the community as a whole. This means that regardless of the comparative number of leaks in your council’s network, you could still face tighter restrictions and water shortages.

What happens if the current level of restriction isn't enough?

If the current restriction level doesn't decrease demand to match available supply, then we may have to move to the next level of water restrictions.

When do water restrictions begin?

For Wellington City, Porirua and Lower Hutt, Water Restriction Level 1 happens every year at the start of Daylight Savings. It’s tied to seasonal changes, not current weather – so it happens even when it’s raining. Upper Hutt and South Wairarapa are on Level 1 year-round.

Wellington Water carefully watch things like public demand, weather forecasts, river levels, and storage levels to see whether we need to change restriction levels. We’ll always keep the latest water restriction level information on our website, and work with our councils to share the message.

Why can councils use water outdoors while there are water restrictions?

Water restrictions and where they apply are council decisions. Wellington Water provides advice to our client councils on what level of watering restrictions are appropriate for them to approve, and we help implement them.

We appreciate that it can be frustrating to see council properties using water while residential restrictions are in place. Councils run many public outdoor spaces, that service a large number of community groups and activities – everything from sports fields to botanic gardens. These often freely accessible communal spaces offer a huge benefit to the community and are very expensive to implement and maintain. If the plants and grassed areas at these facilities were to dry out and die off, significant investment would be needed to get them back to good condition, with the cost of this being covered by the community as a whole through rates.

Council parks and gardens staff work to minimise water use in many ways, for example, by using underground irrigation, mulching, watering as early in the day as possible, minimising overthrow and conducting new planting in autumn, winter and early spring, but not in summer - when more watering would be required. Council staff also water less often but more deeply thereby avoiding multiple light applications which don’t penetrate the root zones and lead to water being wasted and plants being placed under unnecessary stress.

Should my neighbour be using their sprinkler?

No, unless they have their own water supply.

You can report any sprinkler or irrigation use to your local council during a sprinkler ban.

Does that mean I’m allowed to water my garden every night?

Different water restrictions apply to different areas, please see this link for what rules apply to your area.

What should I do if I see someone not following water restrictions?

We know that by and large, Wellingtonians want to do the right thing to help make sure there's enough water to go around. So if you see someone not following water restrictions, it could be because they're either unaware, or have misunderstood the restrictions. If you're comfortable, feel free to let them know that there are water restrictions, and direct them to our website for more information.

If you're not comfortable doing that, or believe that they are knowingly breaking water restrictions, please contact your local council. Your council and Wellington Water will reach out to remind them of the current water restriction level.

My business relies on outdoor water use, what can I do?

I.e. house cleaners, nurseries etc.

You can continue to operate as normal, however we ask that you are pragmatic and responsible when watering.

Can I still water my garden during a sprinkler ban?

Yes - you can use handheld watering devices to water your garden during a sprinkler ban. e.g. a handheld hose.

We recommend that you only water between the hours of 6-8am and 7-9pm so the soil better retains the moisture. You can water your garden with water collected from your roof, or with grey water collected from your bath, shower, washing machine or kitchen sink.

Why is the sprinkler ban still in place?

There are a number of reasons a sprinkler ban does not get removed after a few days of rainfall. If we are only at the beginning of summer we need to make sure our water will last all summer long, in particular during the peak of summer (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 more drought conditions.

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.

What about additional water storage, wouldn’t that also help? Do you have any plans to invest in this?

The decision to invest in additional storage including reservoirs and lakes sits with our local council owners and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Investment in increased lake storage at Te Mārua is one of the key actions recommended to councils to help solve the increasing water shortage issue and provide a sustainable water supply for the region.

How would a water shortage affect me?

If Wellington experiences tighter water restrictions, we may ask you to reduce your indoor use as much as possible. At Level 3, we ask you to consider using less water indoors, i.e. taking shorter showers or ensuring that you’re doing full loads of laundry. At Level 4, we ask people to reduce their showers to 2 minutes each, and do one load of laundry per person, per week. If we can’t get demand down far enough and face a severe water shortage, we may need to issue boil water advisory notices, as low reservoir levels and low water pressure in pipes can increase the risk of contamination. A boil water notice is when you must boil tap water for at least one minute before drinking, using it to prepare food or in cleaning.

The Network

Who pays to fix my lateral?

It depends. Each city has their own bylaw or policy as to who is responsible for fixing a lateral. In general, if the issue is within your property boundary, you are responsible. If the issue is outside your property boundary it depends on which city you live in. Find out more by clicking on the link.

What is a Lateral

The term “lateral” is used to describe pipes that transfer wastewater or stormwater from an individual property to the
Council mains. The wastewater and stormwater laterals are continuous pipes that may cross from private, to other private, and/or to public land (such as a road or recreation reserve), and may serve more than one property.

The Council is responsible for the repair and renewal of only wastewater laterals that are in public roads.
Property owners are responsible for the wastewater laterals from their property that are in; their property, a neighboring private property or other public land (for example, a reserve) and the stormwater lateral to the point of discharge at the public main or drain or street curb and channel.

Can you please explain how the buffer system works?

Our sources are known as ‘run of river’ - this means that when the river levels drop during summer, our available supply decreases, at the same time as demand increases with the warmer and drier weather.

When river levels drop too low the Wainuiomata treatment plant cannot continue to supply water, and the Te Marua treatment plant can only run on water stored in the Macaskill Lakes.  The region then relies on the storage in the lakes and the water available from the Waiwhetu aquifer to get through until river levels are restored to healthy conditions.

The 'buffer' (sometimes referred to as ‘headroom’) refers to the space between the absolute maximum we can supply, and the amount we are using and losing to leaks. This concept helps people understand how tight things are getting as treatment plant output capacity reduces and demand increases.

Low buffer levels mean that water supply is more vulnerable, because if there is an unforeseen asset failure (for example a major burst pipe, or a pump failure) this could tip the balance of water available in our treated water reservoirs below the red line. The risk here is that the water levels drop to dangerously low levels.

What is a toby?

A toby is a water shut-off valve generally located at the boundary of your property, that sits between the public water pipe and your private water pipe.

Why is river supply low after heavy rainfall?

This is because when there is heavy rainfall the water isn't clean enough to use. We have to wait for the dirt and leaves (that have been churned up) in the water to settle before we can use it. By the time the water settles, and is good enough to use, the river may have already receded. Long periods of drizzly rain are best for river supply.

This is why we have to use water from the Waiwhetu aquifer and our storage lakes, to make sure supply meets demand.

Why isn’t fixing leaks straightforward?

On a practical level – some leaks are obvious and easy to fix. Others less so.

There can sometimes be quite a distance between where the leak surfaces and where it actually occurs. Some of the largest leaks don’t show up on the surface at all – and so we deploy our specialist leak detection team to find them. These are called 'non-surfacing leaks'.

The situation on the ground can make things tricky, too. For example if a leak is in the middle of a road, we need to get the permission of the local road controlling authority (the local council) and arrange for traffic management to access the location safely. We also need to make sure we keep clear of other services in the area – such as electricity and gas – so we need to locate the services before we start so we don’t hurt anyone or cause a loss of another service.

The leaks in my council area aren't as bad as some others - so I'll be fine, right?

All of the water supplied to Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua is treated at one of four treatment plants before being distributed throughout the network. The network and treatment plants are interconnected, and this means all areas supplied by the treatment plants have an impact on the overall system performance and how much water there is to go around for the community as a whole. This means that regardless of the comparative number of leaks in your council’s network, you could still face tighter restrictions and water shortages.

Do the Wellington and South Wairarapa water pipe networks contain asbestos fibres?

Yes. Asbestos cement (AC) was used extensively within the pipe network following the Second World War, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. Asbestos cement pipes were an integral part of infrastructure investment in New Zealand until 1986, when manufacture and installation of AC pipes ceased. AC water pipes are common, not only throughout New Zealand, but across the world. The pipes are gradually being phased out, as we replace older pipes as part of our ongoing renewal and replacement project work.

Why are you renewing pipes? Why not just fix them all?

We’ve got an aging network on our hands – with leaks on the rise. More and more pipes are nearing or past the end of their expected service life, and we often fix multiple leaks that occur on the same pipes in quick succession. Unfortunately, leak reduction and repairs are not a one-off activity, and new leaks appear all the time.

In order get on top of the leaks, we need to both fix the leaks and renew the pipes. We have to balance renewing pipes to make them significantly less likely to leak, and finding and fixing leaks as quickly as we can, particularly the biggest leaks that affect water supply and pose a safety risk to people and property.

It’s a bit like maintaining your car – as you need to both keep up an ongoing level of routine maintenance and plan for eventual replacement of the car.

To get on top of the backlog in watermain renewals we estimate we need to replace about 100km of pipes a year for the next 30 years.

Are food waste disposal units good for the environment?

The short answer is no.

Find out more by clicking on the link below.

Is it safe to swim?

It is recommended you do not swim for two days following a heavy rainfall event. This is to not only protect you from wastewater overflows, but also other contaminants from stormwater that wash off the roads. For the latest on swimming in your area check out LAWA

How do I apply for a new connection to the network?

Applications and payment to connect or disconnect to the public water supply, wastewater or stormwater networks are made through each Council and then processed by Wellington Water.

Wastewater

Where are the wastewater treatment plants?

Wastewater treatment plants are located in Featherson, Greytown, Lake Ferry, Martinborough, Moa Point, Porirua, Seaview and Western (Karori).

How will I know if there’s a discharge in my area?

We update our website, Facebook and Twitter pages when there is an unplanned discharge.

What is wastewater?

Once water has been used in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry and outside, it flows out through private plumbing into the public wastewater network.

Is it safe to swim?

It is recommended you do not swim for two days following a heavy rainfall event. This is to not only protect you from wastewater overflows, but also other contaminants from stormwater that wash off the roads. For the latest on swimming in your area check out LAWA

Can you reuse wastewater?

Grey water is relatively clean wastewater from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances - but it still carries a risk of being contaminated. For further information on how to safely use greywater in your garden see Te Whatu Ora's website.

Where does wastewater end up?

Wastewater flows from your kitchens and bathrooms, through private laterals into the public wastewater network, to treatment plants. It is treated to remove toxins such as bacteria and dispersed out to sea.

Is wastewater dangerous?

Wastewater contains human and other waste. It goes through a vigorous UV treatment process at our plants to remove dangerous toxins such as E.coli. We regularly test bacteria levels in discharged wastewater.

Wastewater or sewage?

Wastewater and sewage are the same thing - dirty water from homes and businesses that is sent to a wastewater treatment plant for treatment. It's a mixture of water and human waste.

How do I apply for a new connection to the network?

Applications and payment to connect or disconnect to the public water supply, wastewater or stormwater networks are made through each Council and then processed by Wellington Water.

Who pays to fix blocked pipes?

Property owners own and are responsible for the maintenance and renewal of private laterals on their property. Councils pay to fix faults in the public network.

How can I stop my pipes from blocking?

Only put water down your sinks, and only flush the 3 “Ps” – pee, poos and (toilet)paper down the toilet.

Leaks

I’ve heard that water can get contaminated when the water pressure in the pipes is low during periods of low water supply. Is that right?

We regularly monitor water quality to make sure that water is healthy and safe to drink. If any test results indicate any reason to be concerned, we would let you know as soon as possible, and give advice on what to do to minimise any risk to public health. This may include boil water notices.

Low water pressure in pipes can increase the risk of contamination of drinking water. This could happen if demand is higher than supply for several days during a really warm and dry period, causing storage reservoirs to drop to very low levels. We’d let the public know if this is the case, and what actions may be required to stay safe.

Why is there a risk of a water shortage this summer?

Our modelling shows that if we have an average summer – meaning no significant rainfall – our councils will have to put tighter water restrictions in place to reduce the risk of an acute water shortage.

This comes down to water demand and supply capacity. Water use in the metropolitan Wellington region is at an all-time high. Leaks are increasing due to the water network being old, population growth is driving up the demand for water and Wellingtonian’s simply use more water than comparable regions.

We also have a finite amount of water we can treat and supply on any given day. This includes a “buffer” that allows for varying levels in daily water usage, unplanned outages, or planned maintenance work. However, the increase in leaks in the network means the available ‘buffer’ is becoming increasingly tight.

In winter, when there is plenty of rain and the river levels are healthy, we can supply up to about 220 million litres of water per day.

But in summer, when it’s hot and dry and river levels drop, this can go down to about 170 million litres of water per day.

170 million litres might sound like a lot, but Wellington is using and losing more water than ever before – often getting up to 205 million litres per day in summer!

You can see that those numbers don’t work. When demand is higher than the available supply from the rivers and aquifer, then we have to dip into the water stored in the storage lakes. But this stored water is precious and is critical for getting through a long dry period, and in summer it’s harder to refill the lakes. So over time, they get lower and lower, leaving Wellington with less and less water stored and available until next winter.

We’ve had all this rain, how could tighter water restrictions be on the cards?

Rain helps us fill the storage lakes during winter, so we can use it during summer when river levels drop. But this storage has a limit – once it’s full, it’s full, and more rain in winter doesn’t change that.

We’re only able to take water from the rivers when they’re above a certain water level. But heavy rain can be just as bad as not enough! When there’s short bursts of heavy rain, it can fill rivers with dirt, sticks and debris. This makes it harder to treat (make safe to drink) and risks blocking the pipe and tunnels that supply the treatment plants. This means that sudden downpours are much less helpful than they seem.

Currently, the two storage lakes (the Macaskill Lakes, at Te Mārua) store up to 3.35 billion litres of water – enough to supplement supply for 2 – 3 months in summer. Wellington Water and our council owners are progressing plans to increase the available water storage.

Why is this summer more serious than previous summers?

Over the past two summers, there has been a real risk of tighter water restrictions – but they’ve been narrowly avoided thanks to substantial and unusual rainfall in summer because of ex-tropical cyclones Dovi and Gabrielle. We can’t assume that this will happen again. El Niño conditions are forecast, and we’re expecting a hotter, drier summer than the previous two.

This combination of increasing leaks, population growth, above average water use, and forecast El Niño conditions all increase the risk of tighter water restrictions.

How can you ask me to restrict my water use, when we’re losing so much water because of leaks?

Finding and fixing leaks is one of our top priorities, but with the resources available to us we can’t fix them all. We’re working on the issue, but it won’t happen overnight – and summer is almost here. The risk of a water shortage this summer and tighter water restrictions is real, and the situation may shift quickly.

To ensure there’s enough water to go around for the necessities, we need everyone to do their bit. Water restrictions help people understand how they can best save water at their place, and when to do so. If people follow the restrictions, it reduces the chance of moving to higher levels.

Water restrictions are enforced through council bylaws. Wellington Water recommend the level of restrictions for our council owners to implement.

What will happen if we run out of water?

We have emergency plans in place and will work alongside our council owners and WREMO (Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office) to provide emergency water to residents.



We encourage people to be prepared at home too, by having their own storage of emergency water. This is also really important to prepare for a significant earthquake that could happen at any time.



You can read more here https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/emergency-water-3/on our Emergency Water page.

What are the potential adverse health effects from drinking unboiled water?

Babies, young children, the elderly and people who have compromised immune systems are more at risk of illness. If you get diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever contact Healthline (0800 611 116) or your doctor.

Why isn’t fixing leaks straightforward?

On a practical level – some leaks are obvious and easy to fix. Others less so.

There can sometimes be quite a distance between where the leak surfaces and where it actually occurs. Some of the largest leaks don’t show up on the surface at all – and so we deploy our specialist leak detection team to find them. These are called 'non-surfacing leaks'.

The situation on the ground can make things tricky, too. For example if a leak is in the middle of a road, we need to get the permission of the local road controlling authority (the local council) and arrange for traffic management to access the location safely. We also need to make sure we keep clear of other services in the area – such as electricity and gas – so we need to locate the services before we start so we don’t hurt anyone or cause a loss of another service.

What is Wellington Water doing to fix the problem?

In the short term, Wellington Water is fixing water leaks and replacing pipes. We are making the most of the available resources, within the funding levels set by each individual council. We’re also letting the public know early of the risks this year so they can be prepared and understand what actions they can take to reduce their water use - this will help to reduce the risk of tighter water restrictions this year. We are also working to help people understand water conservation best practice and tips. For example, there’s a useful Water Calculator where people can find out more about their household’s average water usage and understand what can be done to reduce this.

We're undertaking pressure management testing, to see how we can reduce water pressure without affecting residents’ day-to-day activities. High water pressures increase stress on the water network, which causes more leaks. Optimising the network pressures helps reduce leaks, and the amount of water lost through the leaks that do occur. This helps to extend the lifespan of the water pipes in the region, driving down costs associated with repairs and reducing disruptions to our customers. We’re part way through a capacity upgrade project at the Te Mārua Water Treatment Plant in Upper Hutt. This plant treats close to 50% of all drinking water to the Wellington region, on average. This upgrade will allow us to treat more water and allow us to draw more from the storage lakes, helping to increase available water supply on a daily basis. This project is on track to be delivered by late 2024/early 2025.

In the long term, we have recommended three key actions for councils to consider in their long-term planning process and have indicated the timeframes required for each. There needs to be increased investment in water loss management and pipe renewals, the development of additional water storage at Te Mārua, and the introduction of smart water meters to reduce demand and help find leaks more efficiently both in private property and within the public network. It is up to our council owners to determine how much is invested into these three aspects, and when.

Why don’t we just fix the leaks? Then we won’t have this problem!

Wellington Water, on behalf of our council owners, has dedicated teams out working as efficiently as possible to find and fix leaks every day.

But there are a lot of leaks, and we simply can’t fix them all with the current resources and funding we have available. So, we must prioritise where crews go to make the best use of our resources and focus on fixing the most important leaks first. Generally, these are ones that are losing the biggest volume of water or are impacting water supply to customers, many of which are underground and hard to detect. 

When we find leaks that are on private properties, we let homeowners know so they can fix them (as these are outside of our remit). 

Wellington Water has created a clear prioritisation process to ensure our work is as effective as possible.

The leaks in my council area aren't as bad as some others - so I'll be fine, right?

All of the water supplied to Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua is treated at one of four treatment plants before being distributed throughout the network. The network and treatment plants are interconnected, and this means all areas supplied by the treatment plants have an impact on the overall system performance and how much water there is to go around for the community as a whole. This means that regardless of the comparative number of leaks in your council’s network, you could still face tighter restrictions and water shortages.

What is the water contaminated with?

We are taking a precautionary measure due to the slip at 78 Howard Road.

Why are you renewing pipes? Why not just fix them all?

We’ve got an aging network on our hands – with leaks on the rise. More and more pipes are nearing or past the end of their expected service life, and we often fix multiple leaks that occur on the same pipes in quick succession. Unfortunately, leak reduction and repairs are not a one-off activity, and new leaks appear all the time.

In order get on top of the leaks, we need to both fix the leaks and renew the pipes. We have to balance renewing pipes to make them significantly less likely to leak, and finding and fixing leaks as quickly as we can, particularly the biggest leaks that affect water supply and pose a safety risk to people and property.

It’s a bit like maintaining your car – as you need to both keep up an ongoing level of routine maintenance and plan for eventual replacement of the car.

To get on top of the backlog in watermain renewals we estimate we need to replace about 100km of pipes a year for the next 30 years.

Do I need to boil my water?

If you live in the Point Howard area from Howard Road, Church Lane, Nikau Road, Westhill Road and Ngaumatau Road must be boiled before drinking or using for food preparation or dental hygiene.

How long will the boil water notice be in place for?

The boil water notice will remain in place until further notice.

How long do I need to boil the water for?

Boiling will kill all disease-causing organisms.
• Place the water in a clean metal pan and bring the water to a rolling boil (where bubbles appear in the centre and do not disappear when the water is stirred) for one minute
• Cool water (do not use ice cubes to do this) and pour into clean container with a lid
• Refrigerate until needed

What are you doing to make the water safe to drink?

Crews are working hard to restore supply as soon as possible. Once restored, it will take a further three days of clear tests to confirm that water will no longer need to be boiled.

What about teeth brushing and shaving?

Only use boiled or bottled water to brush your teeth. You can shave as usual using tap water.

What about my pets?

Pets can usually drink water that has not been boiled.

How was the water contaminated?

The slip at No. 78 Howard Road has resulted in loss of supply to these properties. As a precautionary measure residents must boil water taken from the network until further notice.

I have a water filtration unit installed. Does this make the water safe?

No. Filtered water should also be boiled for minute before using it for drinking, food preparation or dental hygiene.

Is it safe to wash my hands in the tap water?

Yes it is, as long as you follow a proper handwashing technique. This includes rubbing all parts of your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Can I use my coffee machine, soda machine or ice maker?

Machines that are connected to the water supply should not be used. Use boiled water or bottled water for making coffee, ice or soda drinks.

Can I still use the water for washing the dishes and doing the laundry?

Dishes can be washed using boiled water. If your dishwasher has a hot setting, it can be used to wash dishes. If it doesn’t have a hot setting, once it’s finished, rinse the dishes in a bleach solution afterwards (1 tablespoon unscented household bleach per 5 litres of water). Allow the dishes to completely air dry. You can continue to do your laundry as you normally would.

Can I use the shower and bath?

As long as you don’t swallow the water. Toddlers and infants should be sponge bathed to reduce the chance of them swallowing the water. We advise all residents to minimise water use until full service is restored.

What should I do about feeding my baby?

If breastfeeding, continue as usual. If you are using baby formula, prepare using bottled or cooled, boiled water. Wash and sterilise bottles and teats by boiling or microwaving.

I have onsite water storage – what do I do?

Contact Wellington Water (04 912 4400 or info@wellingtonwater.co.nz) for specific advice relating to your situation.

What should I do once the boil water notice is lifted?

Run your cold taps for 5 minutes before using the tap water. Flush any appliances e.g. coffee machines, that are connected to the water supply. Hot water cylinders and header tanks may need to be drained and refilled.

Boil Water Notice

How long will the boil water advisory be in place for?

The boil water advisory will remain in place until further notice. We will advise when the water is again safe to drink without boiling.

Can chlorine affect existing conditions?

Yes, in a small number of people chlorine can be an irritant for an existing condition such as asthma or eczema. If you notice increased skin irritation, asthma symptoms or other symptoms - seek medical advice.

You can contact Heathline 24/7 free on 0800 611 116 or your family doctor (GP).

Is it safe to wash my hands in the tap water during a boil notice?

You can continue washing your hands using tap water and shower and bath (so long as you don't swallow water). For more information on what you can and can't do during a water boil notice click see more.

How long do I need to boil water for?

During a boil water notice you need to boil your water, boiling will kill all disease-causing organisms. Place the water in a clean metal pan and bring the water to a rolling boil (where bubbles appear in the centre and do not disappear when the water is stirred) for one minute. Alternatively, boil an electric jug full of water until the switch turns off. Cool water (do not use ice cubes to do this) and pour into clean container with a lid. Refrigerate until needed

What is a boil notice?

When a boil water notice is in effect, consumers need to boil tap water before drinking, using for food preparation or cleaning. This is used when bacteria is present in the drinking water, or there is the potential for bacteria to be present in the drinking water.

Will chlorine affect my health?

Studies indicate that drinking water with low concentrations of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects. Its widespread use has been a major factor in reducing illness from waterborne diseases.

If you feel your skin getting dry or ‘itchy’ use moisturiser after having a shower or bath. If you notice increased skin irritation, asthma symptoms or other symptoms – seek medical advice. Even with the small amounts of chlorine used, some people will notice the smell.

What about additional water storage, wouldn’t that also help? Do you have any plans to invest in this?

The decision to invest in additional storage including reservoirs and lakes sits with our local council owners and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Investment in increased lake storage at Te Mārua is one of the key actions recommended to councils to help solve the increasing water shortage issue and provide a sustainable water supply for the region.

What are the potential health risks of non-boiled drinking water ?

During a boil water notice, there is a risk you could get sick from bugs in the water. Babies, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems are more at risk of illness. If you get diarrhea, vomiting and/or a fever get advice from your doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116).

What is the water contaminated with?

The water may contain bugs that can make people sick, for example causing vomiting or diarrhoea. Our routine water quality tests look for E.coli which, if found, indicates that there are bugs (bacteria or protozoa such as cryptosporidium or giardia) in the water that could cause human illness. Boiling water kills all of these bugs.

How would a water shortage affect me?

If Wellington experiences tighter water restrictions, we may ask you to reduce your indoor use as much as possible. At Level 3, we ask you to consider using less water indoors, i.e. taking shorter showers or ensuring that you’re doing full loads of laundry. At Level 4, we ask people to reduce their showers to 2 minutes each, and do one load of laundry per person, per week. If we can’t get demand down far enough and face a severe water shortage, we may need to issue boil water advisory notices, as low reservoir levels and low water pressure in pipes can increase the risk of contamination. A boil water notice is when you must boil tap water for at least one minute before drinking, using it to prepare food or in cleaning.

Drinking Water

I’ve heard that water can get contaminated when the water pressure in the pipes is low during periods of low water supply. Is that right?

We regularly monitor water quality to make sure that water is healthy and safe to drink. If any test results indicate any reason to be concerned, we would let you know as soon as possible, and give advice on what to do to minimise any risk to public health. This may include boil water notices.

Low water pressure in pipes can increase the risk of contamination of drinking water. This could happen if demand is higher than supply for several days during a really warm and dry period, causing storage reservoirs to drop to very low levels. We’d let the public know if this is the case, and what actions may be required to stay safe.

Why is there a risk of a water shortage this summer?

Our modelling shows that if we have an average summer – meaning no significant rainfall – our councils will have to put tighter water restrictions in place to reduce the risk of an acute water shortage.

This comes down to water demand and supply capacity. Water use in the metropolitan Wellington region is at an all-time high. Leaks are increasing due to the water network being old, population growth is driving up the demand for water and Wellingtonian’s simply use more water than comparable regions.

We also have a finite amount of water we can treat and supply on any given day. This includes a “buffer” that allows for varying levels in daily water usage, unplanned outages, or planned maintenance work. However, the increase in leaks in the network means the available ‘buffer’ is becoming increasingly tight.

In winter, when there is plenty of rain and the river levels are healthy, we can supply up to about 220 million litres of water per day.

But in summer, when it’s hot and dry and river levels drop, this can go down to about 170 million litres of water per day.

170 million litres might sound like a lot, but Wellington is using and losing more water than ever before – often getting up to 205 million litres per day in summer!

You can see that those numbers don’t work. When demand is higher than the available supply from the rivers and aquifer, then we have to dip into the water stored in the storage lakes. But this stored water is precious and is critical for getting through a long dry period, and in summer it’s harder to refill the lakes. So over time, they get lower and lower, leaving Wellington with less and less water stored and available until next winter.

We’ve had all this rain, how could tighter water restrictions be on the cards?

Rain helps us fill the storage lakes during winter, so we can use it during summer when river levels drop. But this storage has a limit – once it’s full, it’s full, and more rain in winter doesn’t change that.

We’re only able to take water from the rivers when they’re above a certain water level. But heavy rain can be just as bad as not enough! When there’s short bursts of heavy rain, it can fill rivers with dirt, sticks and debris. This makes it harder to treat (make safe to drink) and risks blocking the pipe and tunnels that supply the treatment plants. This means that sudden downpours are much less helpful than they seem.

Currently, the two storage lakes (the Macaskill Lakes, at Te Mārua) store up to 3.35 billion litres of water – enough to supplement supply for 2 – 3 months in summer. Wellington Water and our council owners are progressing plans to increase the available water storage.

Why is this summer more serious than previous summers?

Over the past two summers, there has been a real risk of tighter water restrictions – but they’ve been narrowly avoided thanks to substantial and unusual rainfall in summer because of ex-tropical cyclones Dovi and Gabrielle. We can’t assume that this will happen again. El Niño conditions are forecast, and we’re expecting a hotter, drier summer than the previous two.

This combination of increasing leaks, population growth, above average water use, and forecast El Niño conditions all increase the risk of tighter water restrictions.

How can you ask me to restrict my water use, when we’re losing so much water because of leaks?

Finding and fixing leaks is one of our top priorities, but with the resources available to us we can’t fix them all. We’re working on the issue, but it won’t happen overnight – and summer is almost here. The risk of a water shortage this summer and tighter water restrictions is real, and the situation may shift quickly.

To ensure there’s enough water to go around for the necessities, we need everyone to do their bit. Water restrictions help people understand how they can best save water at their place, and when to do so. If people follow the restrictions, it reduces the chance of moving to higher levels.

Water restrictions are enforced through council bylaws. Wellington Water recommend the level of restrictions for our council owners to implement.

What will happen if we run out of water?

We have emergency plans in place and will work alongside our council owners and WREMO (Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office) to provide emergency water to residents.



We encourage people to be prepared at home too, by having their own storage of emergency water. This is also really important to prepare for a significant earthquake that could happen at any time.



You can read more here https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/emergency-water-3/on our Emergency Water page.

Can you please explain how the buffer system works?

Our sources are known as ‘run of river’ - this means that when the river levels drop during summer, our available supply decreases, at the same time as demand increases with the warmer and drier weather.

When river levels drop too low the Wainuiomata treatment plant cannot continue to supply water, and the Te Marua treatment plant can only run on water stored in the Macaskill Lakes.  The region then relies on the storage in the lakes and the water available from the Waiwhetu aquifer to get through until river levels are restored to healthy conditions.

The 'buffer' (sometimes referred to as ‘headroom’) refers to the space between the absolute maximum we can supply, and the amount we are using and losing to leaks. This concept helps people understand how tight things are getting as treatment plant output capacity reduces and demand increases.

Low buffer levels mean that water supply is more vulnerable, because if there is an unforeseen asset failure (for example a major burst pipe, or a pump failure) this could tip the balance of water available in our treated water reservoirs below the red line. The risk here is that the water levels drop to dangerously low levels.

What is a toby?

A toby is a water shut-off valve generally located at the boundary of your property, that sits between the public water pipe and your private water pipe.

If smart meters are the solution to the problem, why don’t we have these in place to prevent a water shortage?

The decision to install residential smart water meters is one that sits with our council owners.

Investment in smart meters is one of the three key things we’ve recommended to help solve the increasing water shortage issue and provide a sustainable water supply for the region.

Implementing universal smart water meters is an industry best-practice tool for reducing leaks and managing water loss in both the private and public networks. They can also help residents understand and manage their water use. 

What is blue staining?

Blue staining is where a noticeable blue/green discoloration is seen in bathroom sinks and similar
fixtures, commonly around plugholes and areas where taps drip or leak and occurs primarily in older
homes with copper plumbing (which may include copper underground pipe connections between
the water main and the house).

Why is my water discoloured?

When we undertake work on the pipes in your area, this often causes some silt from inside the pipes to dislodge and can cause discoloration in your water.

If this happens, run the tap for 5-10 minutes to see if it clears. If it hasn’t cleared, please call your local council.

Can chlorine affect existing conditions?

Yes, in a small number of people chlorine can be an irritant for an existing condition such as asthma or eczema. If you notice increased skin irritation, asthma symptoms or other symptoms - seek medical advice.

You can contact Heathline 24/7 free on 0800 611 116 or your family doctor (GP).

Why does my water taste or smell earthy?

Unpleasant tasting water can be caused by a range of factors. Click on the link to find out how you can check your water.

Why is river supply low after heavy rainfall?

This is because when there is heavy rainfall the water isn't clean enough to use. We have to wait for the dirt and leaves (that have been churned up) in the water to settle before we can use it. By the time the water settles, and is good enough to use, the river may have already receded. Long periods of drizzly rain are best for river supply.

This is why we have to use water from the Waiwhetu aquifer and our storage lakes, to make sure supply meets demand.

Are you selling water to commercial bottling plants?

No. All of the water supplied by Wellington Water goes directly to local homes and businesses. If you’d like more information on consents to draw and/or bottle water, this is managed by Greater Wellington Regional Council – with information available on their website.

What is Wellington Water doing to fix the problem?

In the short term, Wellington Water is fixing water leaks and replacing pipes. We are making the most of the available resources, within the funding levels set by each individual council. We’re also letting the public know early of the risks this year so they can be prepared and understand what actions they can take to reduce their water use - this will help to reduce the risk of tighter water restrictions this year. We are also working to help people understand water conservation best practice and tips. For example, there’s a useful Water Calculator where people can find out more about their household’s average water usage and understand what can be done to reduce this.

We're undertaking pressure management testing, to see how we can reduce water pressure without affecting residents’ day-to-day activities. High water pressures increase stress on the water network, which causes more leaks. Optimising the network pressures helps reduce leaks, and the amount of water lost through the leaks that do occur. This helps to extend the lifespan of the water pipes in the region, driving down costs associated with repairs and reducing disruptions to our customers. We’re part way through a capacity upgrade project at the Te Mārua Water Treatment Plant in Upper Hutt. This plant treats close to 50% of all drinking water to the Wellington region, on average. This upgrade will allow us to treat more water and allow us to draw more from the storage lakes, helping to increase available water supply on a daily basis. This project is on track to be delivered by late 2024/early 2025.

In the long term, we have recommended three key actions for councils to consider in their long-term planning process and have indicated the timeframes required for each. There needs to be increased investment in water loss management and pipe renewals, the development of additional water storage at Te Mārua, and the introduction of smart water meters to reduce demand and help find leaks more efficiently both in private property and within the public network. It is up to our council owners to determine how much is invested into these three aspects, and when.

The leaks in my council area aren't as bad as some others - so I'll be fine, right?

All of the water supplied to Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Porirua is treated at one of four treatment plants before being distributed throughout the network. The network and treatment plants are interconnected, and this means all areas supplied by the treatment plants have an impact on the overall system performance and how much water there is to go around for the community as a whole. This means that regardless of the comparative number of leaks in your council’s network, you could still face tighter restrictions and water shortages.

Will chlorine affect my health?

Studies indicate that drinking water with low concentrations of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects. Its widespread use has been a major factor in reducing illness from waterborne diseases.

If you feel your skin getting dry or ‘itchy’ use moisturiser after having a shower or bath. If you notice increased skin irritation, asthma symptoms or other symptoms – seek medical advice. Even with the small amounts of chlorine used, some people will notice the smell.

Hard or Soft Water?

Water supplied to metropolitan Wellington is described as soft water.

If you have a European dishwasher nothing needs to be added or no adjustments (i.e. softener) are required before commencing its cycle. The water in Europe is very hard due to the minerals and calcium it contains, so requires softener is required to be added to dishwashers, when using them in Europe.

Do the Wellington and South Wairarapa water pipe networks contain asbestos fibres?

Yes. Asbestos cement (AC) was used extensively within the pipe network following the Second World War, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. Asbestos cement pipes were an integral part of infrastructure investment in New Zealand until 1986, when manufacture and installation of AC pipes ceased. AC water pipes are common, not only throughout New Zealand, but across the world. The pipes are gradually being phased out, as we replace older pipes as part of our ongoing renewal and replacement project work.

What about additional water storage, wouldn’t that also help? Do you have any plans to invest in this?

The decision to invest in additional storage including reservoirs and lakes sits with our local council owners and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Investment in increased lake storage at Te Mārua is one of the key actions recommended to councils to help solve the increasing water shortage issue and provide a sustainable water supply for the region.

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