Are you ready for a dry summer?

15 December 2015

Lower than normal rainfall across Wellington’s water catchment areas over the last few months, combined with a forecast for more of the same this summer, has increased the chance of a tough summer for urban water users.

The rivers that supply most of the water for the region’s cities are below usual levels, and NIWA’s latest forecast says there’s an increased likelihood of below average rainfall over the next three months. A dry summer could see river levels staying below normal, and water use rising sharply.

Complying with city council watering restrictions and making small changes such as fitting a hose trigger, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, fixing leaks and mulching garden beds to retain moisture in the soil, can make a big difference to water use.

January is typically the month when water use increases sharply as people return from their summer holidays to drier weather.

"Even though we’ve had a bit of rain over the weekend, our rivers aren't as full as usual," said Alex van Paassen, Wellington Water’s Community Engagement Manager. "Taken together with the forecast of an El Nino summer, we may find it tough to meet all demand for water later in the summer."

Outdoor water use, particularly garden watering, is the main reason for surging demand. A garden hose left running for an hour can account for 1,000 litres of water. That’s as much as a family would use on a winter day.

"We're watching water use and our storage pretty closely. We’ve already had a number of days where demand has been above 150 million litres, which is higher than we’d like for this time of year” said Mr van Paassen.

For now, Wellington Water and the region's city councils are asking people to take extra care with their water use in the coming weeks, to help avoid the need for tougher restrictions later in summer.

Alternate day garden watering restrictions are now in effect in Wellington, Lower Hutt, Porirua and Upper Hutt.

Water saving tips

  • Mulch your garden (this keeps moisture locked in)
  • Test the soil’s moisture needs before any watering
  • Target watering direct to the roots of plants at a rate the soil can absorb
  • Time any sprinkler or irrigation watering to 30 minutes max

Watering restrictions

A single sprinkler, irrigation system or unattended hose may be used between 6am-8am and 7pm-9pm on the following days, depending on where you live:

Wellington, Lower Hutt and Porirua

  • Even-numbered houses on even days of the month
  • Odd-numbered houses on odd days of the month

Upper Hutt

  • Even-numbered houses on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only
  • Odd-numbered houses on Tuesdays, Thursday s and Saturdays only