Wellington faces water limits despite rain

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 05:00 12/11/2012
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Wellingtonians won't have to worry about watering the plants this week, but could find restrictions on water use in place for most of the summer.

The latest MetService forecast for the Wellington region is for rain and cold southerlies until Thursday afternoon. Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay can also expect a damp start to the week.

However, the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research expects the next three months to have a lower than average rainfall, meaning a summer of conserving water.

MetService duty forecaster Philippa Murdoch said the forecast for the week was not looking flash.

"There's a bit of rain around at the moment. The rain will set in from the south tomorrow [today], with heavy falls around the ranges and hail in places in the morning. It should ease off in the afternoon, but there will be showers around until Friday.

"This time of year we get fairly changeable weather. We get weeks with lots of rain and then we get ones like last week that have some beautiful sunny days."

However, Niwa's three-month forecast 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 had a third less flow than normal during October. Low rainfall during summer could see river levels staying below normal, and water use rising sharply.

There will also be only half of the usual lake-water reserves while the second of Greater Wellington regional council's water storage lakes at Te Marua is enlarged and earthquake-strengthened.

Regional councillor Nigel Wilson said it was important that water users take some small steps now to ensure there was enough water to go around this summer.

Last summer's water use was the lowest in at least 25 years, he said. "If we can do the same this year, we should be OK.

"With one storage lake empty and an increased chance of low rainfall continuing, we need all water users in Wellington, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and Porirua to get ready for a dry summer. Water use is under control right now, so let's keep it that way."

Small changes, such as fitting a hose trigger, fixing leaks and mulching garden beds to retain moisture in the soil, could make a big difference, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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