Water use tightened in towns as dry spell continues

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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Tighter water restrictions have been introduced in three Waikato towns as the region's dry spell lingers.

Te Awamutu and Pirongia moved to water alert level three yesterday, meaning household sprinklers are banned. Morrinsville has moved to level four status, which bans the use of sprinklers and hoses, and asks industries to cut water use by 20 per cent.

Restrictions could also be imposed on Hamilton city, Waikato district and other parts of Waipa district if there is no significant rain in the Lake Taupo catchment by the end of the month, authorities say.

Fiona Vessey, manager service delivery at Matamata-Piako District Council, said no rain was recorded in Morrinsville in the past week, with consumption peaking on Friday at more than 7000 cubic metres.

Council records show just over 20 millimetres of rain fell in Morrinsville last month compared to 50mm last March.

Last week Vessey said the Morrinsville water reservoir had reached "a historic low".

Concerns over the level of the Maungauika Stream on Mt Pirongia, which supplies Te Awamutu and Pirongia, have prompted the Waipa District Council to increase water restrictions. Council water services manager Lorraine Kendrick said the consistently high temperatures, dry winds and lack of rain had forced the council to act.

"Local residents have already done a great job in responding to the Smart Water Use message but the very dry conditions, and no immediate likelihood of substantial rain, mean we now need to take the next step."

The rest of the Waipa district, along with Hamilton city and Waikato district, are on water alert level two, which means sprinklers and irrigation systems are allowed from 6am to 8am and 6pm to 8pm on alternate days.

Council staff are closely monitoring the situation.

Charmaine Petereit, Smart Water Use programme co-ordinator for Hamilton city, Waikato and Waipa district councils, said if water levels at Lake Taupo continued to decline, water restrictions could be moved to alert level three in the three districts by the end of the month.

"We're really looking for rain in the Taupo catchment because that really drives what amount of water is in the river."

The three councils are working together as part of a sub-regional campaign to change water use habits.

Petereit said the Smart Water Use campaign was helping but people, particularly urban residents, still needed to improve their "water literacy".

"Smart water use starts with the individual . . . every little drop does count," she said. Daily water use was above historic levels for this time of year in Hamilton city and water consumption in the Waikato district is also up on the same time last year.

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Water was not an issue in the Thames-Coromandel district, council infrastructure manager Bruce Hinson said.

"Water restrictions are reviewed daily and there are currently no water restrictions other than the small settlements south of Thames."

- Waikato Times

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