Ban on garden sprinklers and irrigation systems

10 March 2015

It's time to put the garden sprinklers away and disconnect irrigation systems to help ensure the region has enough water to meet essential needs in coming weeks.

Beaker with water in it showing Wellington water supply levels are now very low.

Continuing dry weather means Wellington water supplies are now very low

A ban on the use of any unattended watering device took effect at midnight on Saturday 7 March in Wellington City, Porirua, Hutt City and Upper Hutt. This means household sprinklers and irrigation systems shouldn't be used at any time until further notice.

Careful watering using hand-held hoses is still okay at this stage, but this could change if the hot dry weather continues to take a toll on regional water supplies. You can help by catching water when it rains and watering with waste water from the shower and other household activities if you can. 

There was no significant rain at all during January, the dry conditions continued through February and while it rained heavily over the weekend, it has not made much of a difference. At least a week of significant rainfall is needed to alleviate the situation and only showers are forecast.

The sprinkler ban has been triggered by the much reduced availability of water in our rivers. Wellington Water - which manages the city's water supply on behalf of local councils - had to shut down the Wainuiomata Water Treatment Plant because of very low flows last week and is taking action to help avoid a major water shortage. The plant - one of three serving the region's four cities - is back in use after the rain on Saturday but the river level is dropping fast and it is likely the plant will have to be turned off again soon.

Wellington Water's Operations Manager Noel Roberts is encouraging everyone to ease back on their water use by at least 15 litres a day.

For a three-person home that can be achieved if each person spends 1-2 minutes less in the shower for example. 

Simple things like turning the tap off while cleaning your teeth, and washing only full loads of dishes all help to reduce water use. If you are watering with a hose, please reduce the amount of time you spend doing it and do it in the early morning or evening. Watering when it’s cooler will help reduce evaporation and protect your plants.

If you spot a water leak, call our contact centre on 04 499 4444 or report it via Fix-it.

We are encouraging everyone to do whatever they can to save water but businesses that need and use water can continue to do so.

Things that can be done to help save water include:

  • mulching to keep moisture in your soil longer
  • watering by hand, close to the ground and at a rate the soil can absorb
  • fitting a trigger nozzle to your hose
  • sweeping up garden waste instead of hosing it away
  • putting off non-essential outdoor jobs, like washing windows or the car, until autumn
  • running a bit less water when filling the sink
  • fixing leaks – taps, toilets, pipes
  • putting a 1-litre plastic bottle of water (with the top on) in your single-flush cistern to reduce flush amounts.