Water wait worries continue

Last updated 08:37 20/02/2013
Tom McDaniel
Gill Alcock

KEEP CALM: Only Water owner Tom McDaniel says the perceived water crisis has been caused by panic ordering.

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It's a three to four week wait for a delivery of water but one Waiheke Island water company owner says it's panic ordering that has created the reported water crisis.

The island hasn't seen decent rain this year, but Only Water's Tom McDaniel says the buying frenzy only began after comments in the media.

"The long wait times have been caused by people panicking and booking a delivery with all three companies. That, and not knowing how much water they have in their tanks or how much water they actually use has caused the waiting times to be blown out from 48 hours to three to four weeks."

He says booking with all three water companies has resulted in some water trucks arriving to find tanks already full, wasting precious time.

"With three companies operating at full capacity we can do 70 to 80 loads a day. There are not 70 people on Waiheke without water. If people just booked with one company and didn't panic we could have it sorted in four days.

"We're also going to tanks that are a third to half full. People need to look inside their tanks to see how much water they actually have."

Waiheke Aqua's Anne Stanimiroff has been fielding between 50 and 120 calls a day but says most residents are "being organised".

"Demand is high but most people are prepared and are booking ahead. They have the option to call later on if there's rain and they want to cancel."

Ms Stanimiroff says the Auckland District Health Board has rung twice to make sure water suppliers are meeting the needs of the elderly, families with children and the sick.

"We manage our bookings so we can do the odd emergency.

"If the situation is critical we are endeavouring to deliver within 24 to 48 hours."

Waiheke Aqua brought another truck to the island yesterday to meet the demand.

"We are maximising our water quota every day from our two commercial bores," Ms Stanimiroff says.

Steve Malcolm of Wai Water and Waiheke Water was unavailable for comment but the company's phone message says it's taking bookings for deliveries from mid-March.

While some residents resorted to having a shower at the Onetangi Sports Park while they wait for their water delivery, Auckland Council's Civil Defence manager Clive Manly is quick to point out there is no civil emergency.

He says after contacting all three water companies, all of them are dispensing water in a responsible manner - supplying those who really needed it.

"There is plenty of water left in the aquifer."

He says he is satisfied the water companies are doing the best they can and have the situation under control.

"Waiheke is no different to any other area without reticulation. Residents have to take some of the responsibility and self-manage.

"We are in conversation with the water companies and we are monitoring the situation, but at this stage there is no need to intervene."

He says those who are struggling financially should remember Work and Income is there to help with the costs of a water delivery.

The lengthy dry spell is not unusual. In 2010, concerned residents were buying water to hydrate the taraire trees around the island that were suffering.

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Waiheke Local Board chairwoman Faye Storer agrees that low water levels in tanks are not a problem isolated to Waiheke.

"It is common for us and other Aucklanders with tanks."

She says it's important for residents to keep an eye on their water levels and continue with all conservation measures.

"If this means you have to buy drinking water from the store, we encourage you to do so. Use your tank water for things such as showers and toilet flushing."

- Waiheke Marketplace

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