Not crisis yet, but Aucklanders urged to 'be sensible' with water use

The AM Show 13/02/2020

Although there is no water emergency in Auckland yet, Mayor Phil Goff says if the city wants to ward off a crisis residents need to be sensible with their water use.

On February 5, the city used a record amount of the valuable resource, consuming 561 million litres - up from the 2019 average daily usage of 440 million litres.

As dry conditions continue all over the country, the council is encouraging people to cut their shower time down to four minutes.

"We're not at the stage yet where it's an emergency," Goff told The Am Show on Wednesday. "But the message to the people out there in Auckland is we're having the driest ever weather conditions - please be careful with your water."

Although Goff himself admitted he wasn't taking four-minute showers, Aucklanders do need to be more conscious of their usage, he said.

"That's a guideline for people. At the moment we're actually in a better position than we could have been in because we've been pumping flat out from the Waikato River which means that we've been able to sustain our lake levels."

The city's water storage is currently at 72 percent of capacity, almost 10 percent less than its historical average of around 83 percent for this time of the year.

"We will get to a position where it puts more and more pressure on us and we'll keep pumping from the Waikato and that's really important. We're using the aquifer in Onehunga and so we're doing what we can to supplement, but we're now in day-27 without any significant rain," Goff said. 

"It's not a crisis yet. But what you do is you try to avoid the crisis, not wait for it to happen."

Goff said there were plenty of simple things people could do to cut down their water usage.

"When you're cleaning your teeth turn the tap off, don't keep the tap running. If you can cut down your shower by a few minutes that saves literally millions of litres. So let's do the sensible things, let's head off the crisis, not wait for the crisis to get here," he said. 

Be cautious and be conservative in what you do. At the moment that's the level of the request.

The situation in other parts of the country is tougher.

In Northland, which has seen no rain since November, farmers are really feeling the brunt of the dry weather.

The Government officially declared a drought in the region earlier this week though with no rain expected for weeks to come there is no end in sight.

The dry conditions have also sparked numerous fires across the country, bringing fire bans to many places.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter James Fyfe