Our Water Supply Challenge

10 May 2010

Wellington faces a water-supply challenge and we need your help working out how we go about solving that problem.

When cleaning your teeth, turn off the tap to help conserve water

When cleaning your teeth, turn off the tap to help conserve water

A draft Water Conservation and Efficiency Plan, due to go out for public feedback in July, will ask residents and businesses to comment on a range of different ways to reduce their water consumption. But to help us come up with these ideas we're hoping you'll tell us what you would like to happen.

Council Infrastructure Planning Manager Maria Archer says while the Council's goal is to live within our means, we have to start thinking about how to deal with the strain the city's growth is putting on our water supply.

Not making enough changes would ultimately result in water shortages, the need for water restrictions in dry weather and could lead to the installation of water meters and the need to build a dam sooner.

"We'll continue to fix leaks and manage the water supply as efficiently as possible, but we want to know what you want to do about the water supply challenge we are facing. Do you want to continue to work together on water conservation, or would you rather use water the way you do now?" says Maria.

The bulk of our water comes from rivers and aquifers and is managed by Greater Wellington Regional Council. Maria says Wellington depends completely on this supply and is vulnerable to increased demand through population growth or new weather patterns as a result of climate change. Wellington doesn't have an abundance of storage capacity to make the most of the rainfall. There are also limits over how much of the water we can take from the existing rivers and aquifers without damage.

"We've done the figures, and favour working with the public on a water conservation campaign. We'll also monitor population growth and weather patterns. If by 2014 things haven't improved, we'll need to get working on creating another water supply or encourage even more water conservation by installing water meters. So far, Whakatikei (in the Akatarawa forest) is seen as a likely location for a dam," says Maria. "But we want to defer the building of a dam as long as possible."

The draft Water Conservation and Efficiency Plan will go to Councillors on 17 June. You can then have another say on what we do as part of the formal public consultation in July. We will hold a series of public meetings about the plan - dates will be available soon.

The approved plan will come into effect in October or November this year in time for us to manage summer demand. Right now, we want you to send us your ideas about how the water conservation plan could be successful and/or if you would like to be kept up to date with water conservation and efficiency. Email Paul Glennie at waterconservation@capacity.net.nz or phone (04) 910 3833 by the end of May.