An amended bylaw for managing Tasman District’s community water supplies and future summer water restrictions opens for public consultation on Wednesday 5 June.

Tasman District Council consulted on a version of the bylaw in late 2018. Following the consultation and public hearings, but before the bylaw was adopted, a severe drought hit the region in February and March 2019.

It was the driest two-month period on record. Parts of Golden Bay experienced a one-in-80 year drought and public water supplies on the Waimea Plains faced critical water shortages.

To maintain water supplied by the Council’s schemes, while protecting rapidly dropping river and aquifer levels, the Council imposed a series of escalating water restrictions based on those consulted on in 2018 but not yet adopted.

Council Engineering Services manager Richard Kirby said the restrictions were largely successful, with most residents and businesses taking up the challenge to reduce their water use in order to see the District through the drought.

“We were able to road-test the proposed approach to restrictions that we had been looking at introducing through the bylaw. We learned some lessons along the way, so we have updated the draft bylaw and made a few changes to the version we went out with last year.”

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne urged businesses and residents to think about their experience during the recent drought.

“The restrictions we imposed on urban households and businesses in the Waimea area were much stricter than people will have experienced in the past. They worked – people connected to the Council water supply in that area cut their usage by 28% during the height of the drought. That is a massive effort and was crucial to sustaining our water supplies through that period.

“We want to know if the community agrees with the approach that was taken. It was based on the proposals within this bylaw and, if we adopt it, we will take a very similar approach in future when there is a threat to our water supplies.”

The draft Public Water Supply Bylaw affects the management of the Council’s reticulated water supplies across the entire District. It does not cover private wells/bores, or resource consents to take water for horticulture or other productive uses, which are managed through rules in the Tasman Resource Management Plan.

Mayor Richard said the water restriction provisions were likely to be needed most years until the Waimea Community Dam was operational, and in the event of emergency water shortages.

Consultation is open from 5 June to 5 July 2019. More information is available on our feedback page.