Every drop counts

Published on 28 February 2020

Ann Court (Deputy Mayor)

The drought that is hammering our district is also affecting much of New Zealand. Only the western, lower South Island is wetter than usual for this time of year and both northern Gisborne and northern Canterbury are now experiencing drought conditions. In Auckland, a record 47 days without rain was finally broken over the weekend with a good dump of rain on Saturday. Unfortunately, that band of rain missed most of the Far North.

Many of our residents are now on our highest water restrictions with the Omanaia-Rawene, Paihia-Waitangi-Opua, and Kawakawa-Moerewa water supplies joining Kaikohe and Kaitaia on Level 4 restrictions last week. Kerikeri-Waipapa also moved to Level 3 restrictions.

Kaikohe and Kaitaia remain our most vulnerable water supplies, followed by Omanaia-Rawene. These three towns now have emergency water tanks installed in case town supplies run dry. If that does happen, I want to assure residents we will provide at least two to three days’ notice, and that the Council and Civil Defence will be on hand to provide you with water. We’re doing all we can to avoid this by finding supplementary water supplies now to help us through this drought.

In Kaitaia, we have started work on a tank farm at Sweetwater where bulk water carriers will soon access water from the Aupouri aquifer. Rural and remote households that rely on rainwater tanks have been seriously impacted by this drought and their tanks are now beginning to run dry. They depend on the Council’s treated water supplies for refills. By providing an alternative supply for bulk water carriers, we can relieve pressure on the Kaitaia town supply.

We also intend to pipe water from a second bore to the Kaitaia Water Treatment Plant. Pipes are being prepared now for assembly, and we hope to have this supply up and running in weeks.

Meanwhile, Kaikohe residents achieved an amazing 31 per cent reduction in water their consumption between 11-17 February, surpassing our 25 per cent target. Just as in Kaitaia, we are investigating very promising alternative water supplies for Kaikohe and we hope to announce preferred options once we have finalised details in coming days.

We are making progress, but it’s important to continue to make water savings. Last Friday, dry ground conditions led to a water main break in Kaikohe that cut water for nearly six hours and drained up to 150 cubic metres of treated water from the system. This can happen anywhere, anytime and we rely on you to tell us about water leaks as soon as you can. Kaikohe residents understand this. Since launching our leak fix $300 subsidy offer a month ago, we have repaired about 70 leaks on private properties, at a cost of about $23,000. Individually these leaks may not have been large, but together they add up. Please play your part by flushing less, showering shorter, washing full loads and turning taps off.  Every drop of water counts.