Summer Drought Likely

Low rainfall reinforces ‘dry summer’ concern

By Alan Tristram

Low rainfall across Wellington’s water catchment areas last month, combined with a forecast for more of the same this summer, has increased the chance of a tough summer for town water users.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) says the rivers that supply most of the water for the region’s cities had a third less flow than normal during October.

It says NIWA’s latest forecast shows there’s an increased likelihood of below-average rainfall over the next three months.

A dry summer could see river levels staying below normal, and water use rising sharply.

With the second of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s water storage lakes at Te Marua out of action while it’s being enlarged and earthquake strengthened, there will be half the usual lake-water in reserve for the most of the region’s urban areas over the Summer.

(The Kāpiti Coast is different because its water comes from the district’s rivers, not from storage lakes – but it will still be affected by low river flows – and the Waikanae borefield may have to be brought into use to supplement supplies)

The main Greater Wellington reserve supply in storage lakes is used to compensate for any gap between available water from rivers like the Hutt River and public demand.

Cr Nigel Wilson, Kāpiti’s regional councillor and chair of the Cultural Wellbeing Committee, says it’s important that water users are aware of the situation and take some small steps now to ensure there is enough water to go around this summer.

“With one storage lake empty and an increased chance of low rainfall continuing, we need all water users to get ready for a dry summer.

“Water use is under control right now, so let’s keep it that way,” says Cr Wilson. “If we all do something to use a bit less water, it should see us through.”

Complying with council watering restrictions, and making small changes such as fitting a hose trigger, turning off the tap while brushing  teeth, fixing leaks and mulching garden beds to retain moisture in the soil, can make a big difference to water use.

For more water saving tips, visit www.gw.govt.nz/water