Waiheke water companies work flat out as tanks run dry

Water companies are struggling to meet demand as summer's 'dry' continues.
GEORGE GARDNER/FAIRFAXNZ

Water companies are struggling to meet demand as summer's 'dry' continues.

Waits for water deliveries on Waiheke are lengthening every day, with one water supplier saying people who run out are stupid.

At present, the average wait is 10 days but it is getting longer as the dry weather continues.

"We're now having to put strict water savings into action in our household," one resident said.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye has written to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff about planning for shortages on Waiheke.
DIANA WORTHY/FAIRFAXNZ

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye has written to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff about planning for shortages on Waiheke.

"That means minimal toilet flushes, short showers with buckets to collect shower water, and grey water conservation."

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There are four water companies on the island which offer supplies from bores and aquifers, with a daily cap on the amount they can draw.

Island Water owner Pete Wilson said demand was always high in summer.

"It's because people are stupid - that's why it happens.

"The question I'm asking is 'do their cars run out of petrol as well?'"

Wilson said every summer the same thing happened.

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He said it was because locals didn't check their tanks and overseas visitors were unused to non-reticulated systems so had no idea about water conservation.

Wilson said everyone had their own excuses for running out of water.

And some assumed they'd run out when a proper check could have shown otherwise.

He said just because water wasn't coming out of the tap, it didn't necessarily mean the tank was dry.

"It could be because the water pump has tripped out.

"Put your head actually inside the tank and have a look with a torch to see if there's water there," he said.

"It's about having monitors installed in the tank. People need to watch their water every day, just like they put petrol in the car."

Only Water owner Jessie Ball said a large percentage of people, such as the elderly or disabled, weren't able to climb on tanks to check water levels.

He said his staff were happy to check water levels for free.

But there was also a lack of planning by some.

Around 40 per cent of people who rang said they were out of water.

He said Only Water's waitlist was around 10 days and things were going to get worse as summer progressed.

"I approached the local board a month ago, saying there would be a problem."

Ball said Only Water's weather station produced data that was helpful in analysing rain patterns and predicting weather.

"We've not had any heavy rain for the past six weeks - drizzle doesn't fill tanks."

He said during wetter months, companies drew their daily allowance and stored the water but now they're almost depleted, it meant reliance on the daily quota alone.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said she had written to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff suggesting a review of water quotas.

"We need to ensure there is adequate supply to serve both the island and tourist population during peak periods."

She said she wanted any review to be mindful of environmental effects.

She said she also wanted Auckland and Waiheke civil defence groups to work with water suppliers on planning for times of need.

 - Stuff

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