A small amount of rain on Sunday has failed to provide much relief to water-short communities in the Waimea, Upper Motueka and Golden Bay areas, and strict water restrictions on urban and rural areas will continue next week.

The Dry Weather Taskforce met yesterday afternoon and decided to hold current restriction levels for another week, with the exception of the Motupiko water zone in Upper Motueka, where a cease take for permit holders will take effect from Monday 4 March. That means water can be used for essential human use and stock drinking water only.

Summary of continuing restrictions
  • 65% allocation cut for most Waimea Plains water permit holders
  • 25% usage cut for businesses connected to the reticulated network in Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Mapua, Ruby Bay and Wakefield, as well as rural extensions
  • Outdoor water use ban (with the exception of bucket watering fruit/veges on alternate days) for residents and businesses connected to the reticulated network in Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Mapua, Ruby Bay and Wakefield, as well as rural extensions

Dry Weather Taskforce convenor Dennis Bush-King said the Waimea Plains received about 3.5 mm of rain, parts of Motueka saw up to 19 mm, and parts of Golden Bay up to 20 mm on Sunday.

“That only had a minor effect and most of our rivers are now back to the same very low flow levels they were at last week. It also had a negligible effect on our groundwater aquifers, which continue to decline.”

Dennis said the community effort to save water was helping, and it was clear most people – both urban and rural – were taking the need to comply with restrictions and conserve water seriously.

“We saw a 22% drop in demand from those using the Council water supply last week. That shows a big effort is being made – thank you. Compliance with the 65% cut among water permit holders has also been very good overall.”

Dennis said the bund across the lower Waimea River had helped prevent saltwater intrusion into the aquifers during last week’s king tides.

“It is getting to the point where it has probably done as much as it can to protect our water supply from salt contamination and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the effect it’s having on the river.”

The Kainui Dam, which provides water to permit holders in the Wai-iti area, is getting low, with about 20 days of supply left, Dennis said.

“We’ll be meeting with those served by the dam to see what options we may have for continuing their supply. Golden Bay is the other area we’re monitoring closely, and we may need to consider moving to Stage 3 restrictions (50% cut in allocation) for permit holders in the Bay next week.”

Dennis said water sharing arrangements were possible in the areas under stage four restrictions (65% cut), for permit holders within the same water management zone, to allow users to make the best use of remaining water allocations.

 “We’re happy to consider that as long as the overall restriction for the zone is still met. Anyone wanting to take advantage of a water sharing agreement can contact the Council for more information.”

Acting Engineering Services Manager Dwayne Fletcher said urban communities had risen to the challenge to conserve water.

“There’s been a big change in demand which is fantastic. Unfortunately because there is no significant rain on the horizon we need everyone to save even more water – collect every drop you use in the house and repurpose it for cleaning or flushing the toilet or watering the garden.

“I don’t think there are many people left who genuinely aren’t trying to do their bit but there are a few and they are putting the rest of the community’s water supply at risk now. In the next few weeks, without rain we are looking at an emergency situation where we might have to restrict people’s household supply to just 125 litres a day. Every drop wasted now brings us closer to that point.”

Dwayne said dry, cracked earth meant underground water pipes were at greater risk of moving and breaking than usual. People should check their properties for leaks, and get into the habit of reading their meters to help identify a spike in water use that could signal a leak.

“If you see leaks in public areas please let us know straight away. We are carrying out proactive leak detection, which is underway in Mapua this week. Leaks are being dealt with as a priority but if we have multiple leaks happening at once we prioritise the ones where the most water is being lost first.”

Community meeting

A community meeting is planned for next week to discuss the water supply situation and restrictions and provide advice for how people can prepare and manage their own water use as the drought worsens. Time, date and location will be confirmed within the next day.

Full water restrictions from Monday 4 March

The rural situation

Restrictions for permit holders in rural zones

Maps of the water management zones can be found on the Council’s website – visit www.tasman.govt.nz/link/water-restrictions. 

  • A cease take direction continues for users in the Moutere Surface Water, Powley Creek, Dovedale, and the Rainy River zones
  • A cease take direction is introduced for the Motupiko zone as from 4 March 2019.
  • Stage 4 restrictions, a cut of 65% in permitted allocations, continue to apply in the Upper Catchment, Reservoir, Waimea West, Delta, Upper Confined Aquifer and Golden Hills zones
  • Stage 2 restrictions, a 35% cut in permitted allocations, continue to apply in the Lower Confined, Hope Gravel, Wangapeka, Wai-iti and Wai-iti Dam service zones
  • Stage 2 restrictions are introduced for the Tapawera, Glen Rae, Tadmor, Baton, Stanley Brook, and Golden Bay which covers both the Aorere and Takaka water management zones (those consent holders with specific conditions requiring greater restrictions in the Takaka zone must comply with their consent conditions)
  • Stage 1 restrictions, 20% cut in permitted allocations, continue to apply in the Moutere Western Groundwater and Moutere Eastern Groundwater zone.
  • Water restrictions are also in place in the Riuwaka and little Sydney water management zones.

Restrictions for those with private wells or river takes for domestic use

  • No watering lawns
  • No watering ornamental gardens
  • Urgent water conservation required

Restrictions for Rural Water Supply Schemes (Dovedale, Eighty-Eight Valley, Redwood Valley)

  • Outdoor water use is prohibited except: Watering fruit/veges using a bucket/water can on alternate days; Firefighting; For genuine health and safety reasons
  • 25% business cut
  • For Dovedale only: Cease take - water for essential human use and stock drinking water only
Rural support and advice

The Ministry for Primary Industries and Rural Support Trust are working together to provide support for farmers, growers and others in the rural community affected by fire and drought.

Visit www.mpi.govt.nz(external link) for more information.

Anyone needing additional water should contact a tanker company to arrange a water delivery. It is possible to source water from areas where restrictions are not currently in effect. You will need to contact a tanker company to arrange this. These sites are already very busy.

The urban situation

  • Outdoor water use is prohibited except: Watering fruit/veges using a bucket/water can on alternate days; Firefighting; For genuine health and safety reasons
  • 25% business use cut

Businesses connected to the Council supply should start planning for even greater restrictions, and have contingency plans in place if the next phase of even greater cuts are needed.