Tougher water use rules likely
A light sprinkle of rain yesterday has brought little respite for a parched Waikato, with level 3 water restrictions likely to be in force in Hamilton by Thursday.
Hamilton City and Waikato District council areas are on level 2 water restrictions, meaning sprinkler systems are permitted between 6-8am and 6-8pm on alternate days only and there is no restriction on commercial and non-residential properties.
But Hamilton City Council city waters manager Tim Harty said the council met yesterday to discuss further restrictions, as the community was not responding adequately to the water conservation plan.
He said unless there was significant rainfall in the next few days, the council would move to a "level 3' restriction, which had not been imposed since the "level" system was introduced.
"It's been a long, dry spell and I think there would need to be a lot more rainfall to break the usage pattern we've got at the moment," he said.
A level 3 water alert would bring a total ban on domestic sprinklers, with only hand-held hosing permitted in domestic homes and a restriction on outdoor water use for commercial/non-residential properties.
Mr Harty said the council was not looking to ban water use for commercial operations outright, but would ask for a halt to unnecessary use, such as watering plants and cleaning buildings.
"We're not asking for businesses to stop doing what they do, we're just asking them to stop water use that is not going to impact on them directly, in terms of their ability to operate," he said.
Mr Harty said the council was doing "a whole raft of things across the board to make sure that council is leading the way in terms of reducing its water use".
He said most city fountains would be shut down, and watering of certain roundabouts and planting would be cut, along with CBD street-cleaning regimes being monitored.
"Its all about conserving. It's not set in stone that we'll go to [level] 3 on Thursday . . . if we can avoid it we'd love to, and its the community that can play their part in doing that."