John Banks to Head of Watercare - Why is Auckland not taking more water from Waikato River?

listen 18/05/2020

Many of you who don't live in Auckland could care less about the water shortage and restrictions happening in Jafaland right now.

But those who are Aucklanders are not only inconvenienced but frustrated. Not just because of the restrictions, but because it could all be fixed easily - but is being held up by resource consent.

Currently, Auckland is at 45% of it's water supply (when it should be around 70%). Aucklanders have been urged - and even fined if they don't adhere - to limit their water usage. If you're spotted washing your car with a hose - you could be out of pocket $20k.

John Banks, covering for Ryan Bridge but also former Mayor of Auckland City, doesn't understand how we've come to this.

Auckland takes 150 million litres of water per day from the Waikato River. Surely the answer to the water shortage is to just increase the supply, right?

John got the head honcho of Watercare, Raveen Jaduram, on the phone to explain why Watercare has not done anything about this, and how they and/or the Government has allowed a first world city to live like this.

First, John asks why Auckland is not taking more water from the Waikato River, to which Raveen replied:

It's laws and legislation. It's well above my pay grade, and I've got a pretty good pay grade. If I was running the country I would do it differently.

Raveen says Watercare have applied for an extra 25 million litres per day, but this has not been approved yet. He mentions they asked for 200 million litres of water per day back in 2013, but this was not approved.

John asks, how much water would we need per day to stop the shortage by the end of the week. Raveen says 200 million litres of water per day - however their water treatment plant does not have the capability to treat this amount of water.

Currently they can only treat 150 million litres per day, but are currently upgrading their plant to be able to take 175 million litres (which will be ready to go in 4-7 weeks).

Treating 200 million litres per day would require a new water treatment plant to be built, which could take years.

John asks if we were able to take 200 million litres per day, would this have an ecology impact on the Waikato River. Raveen answers that it would have minimal impact to the environment, but Auckland would see a lot of benefit from it.

Listen to the full interview above.