Auckland’s mayor will be advocating for the region’s outdoor water restrictions to be lifted this week, after water storage dams surpassed 90 per cent.
Auckland’s current water restrictions prevent the use of sprinklers but allow hoses fitted with trigger nozzles, and have been in place since May 2020, in response to a “record-breaking” drought in the region.
A recommendation by Watercare to lift the restrictions will be considered by Auckland Council’s governing body at a meeting this Thursday.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff on Sunday said he too will be recommending the restrictions are lifted – which, if approved, will happen on Saturday, October 23.
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It comes after Auckland’s water storage dams hit 90 per cent this week, bouncing back from being just half-full in early May thanks to reduced consumption, rainfall, and boosted supply from the Waikato River.
The dams have recovered to normal levels. October’s historical average is 91 per cent.
Goff said after a prolonged run of drought and drier-than-normal weather for more than two years, a good boost in rainfall since September has seen dam levels rise by more than 30 percentage points from 60 per cent in July to 91 per cent by Sunday.
“With dam levels back to normal, there is now a sufficient level of certainty that we can lift restrictions without having to reverse that decision in the near future,” Goff said.
He thanked Aucklanders for their “outstanding” effort to reduce water use over the past 17 months.
Goff said a “colossal” amount of water had been saved over this period – more than 20 billion litres.
He said the resilience of the region’s water supply had also been strengthened through supporting Watercare to deliver over 100 million litres a day by the first quarter of 2022, to ensure supply can meet both population growth and drought.
This also includes construction of three water treatment plants.
Watercare chair Margaret Devlin says with its recommendation, the Council-controlled organisation has provided Auckland councillors and Goff with information to guide their decision-making, including the long-range weather forecast, consumption data, network efficiency information and production volumes at treatment plants.
Devlin said at this stage forecasters are predicting a slightly wetter-than-normal summer.
Watercare’s modelling, based on conservative calculations, “gives us confidence that it’s highly unlikely we’d need to impose further restrictions later in summer”, she said.
Devlin encouraged Aucklanders to maintain their reduced consumption of water.
Collectively, Aucklanders are using on average 36 million litres less each day than they were in 2019 (based on the rolling 12-month average).
“I know our residential and commercial customers are contributing to this impressive reduction – so thank you for doing your bit. Your savings, together with our work to bring on new water supplies and of course the recent heavy rain, has all helped to get us to the point where we can recommend restrictions be lifted.”