The Tasman District Council will hold a community meeting next Wednesday, 6 March, to outline its plans for greater water restrictions for homes and businesses connected to Council water supplies, should the water supply crisis facing the Waimea Plains worsen over the next few weeks.

If there is no rain the risks to the wider community’s water supply will increase, and everyone will be asked to further reduce their water use to preserve the remaining water supplies.

Acting Engineering Services Manager Dwayne Fletcher said while the current Stage 4 restrictions for urban and rural communities of the Waimea Plains would remain the same for now, greater restrictions were inevitable if there was no rain.

“We need to plan for that worst-case scenario because it is looking increasingly likely. We’re in the driest two-month period since records began 78 years ago and there is no significant rain forecast at this stage.”

Dwayne said the Council was proposing two further restriction stages if the drought doesn’t break.

The next stage of restrictions would ban topping up community pools and require businesses connected to the reticulated network in Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Wakefield, Mapua, Ruby Bay and their rural extensions to reduce their water use by 30 – 50%. Businesses currently face a 25% cut.

After that, restrictions would escalate to a complete ban on all water use except for essential household drinking water, food preparation, sanitary needs, animal welfare and firefighting. The Council would enforce a maximum household water allowance of 125 litres per person per day. The average person in Tasman uses about 250 litres per day.

Dwayne said the restrictions would remain consistent across the communities of Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Wakefield, Mapua, Ruby Bay, Redwood Valley and Eight-Eight Valley unless the source water for one area was compromised (for example, by saltwater contamination).

“If that happened, we might have to stop normal supply to people’s taps in that area and provide water from distribution points instead – but that would be an absolute last resort if we could no longer physically supply that area.”

In all other circumstances the Council would continue to maintain a fully charged pipe network so water would be available from household taps, Dwayne said.

“Obviously we are proposing some very drastic measures here and it’s only fair we provide an opportunity for the community to find out more about why we’re at this point and what we’re going to be asking of people, before any final decisions are made.

“In saying that, the situation is urgent so we do need to have plans in place as soon as possible. After the public meeting next Wednesday, the Council will make a final decision about the restrictions at a meeting on Thursday.”

Everyone is invited to attend Wednesday’s meeting, which will be from 7.00 pm – 9.00 pm at the Richmond New Life Church at 85 Wensley Road, Richmond.