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Soaring water consumption prompts warning, water patrols

Wellington Water is calling on the residents of Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt Valley to cut back on their water use this weekend, and make sure they observe garden watering restrictions.

A prolonged dry spell, with more to come according to forecasters, has seen water use soar. Last Sunday consumption in the four cities reached 171 million litres for the day (MLD) – around 30 million litres more than a typical day, and the highest November total in five years.

“Last time we had such a warm, dry spring, we ended up with a hosing ban in summer,” said Jeremy McKibbin, Wellington Water’s manager of treatment plant operations.

Mr McKibbin said there are a number of water supply challenges he is dealing with, including having reduced supply from the Waiwhetu Aquifer until new ultraviolet treatment plant comes online in January, that makes it important water demand does not exceed 160 MLD too often.

“We’re also putting in new filters in the treatment plant at Te Marua, where our summer storage lakes are, to reduce the risk from toxic algae.” The new filtration system is expected to be fully operational in December.

As river supplies dry up, the aquifer and storage lakes are what keep the Wellington metropolitan water supply going.

“There will be enough water to go round if everyone does their bit,” said Mr McKibbin.

“This includes following garden watering restrictions, and water saving tips like using buckets to wash the car, or a broom to sweep the path, rather than the hose.

Water patrols will be starting this week, to ensure people are following the restrictions. Restrictions are based on the odds and evens system, which allows residents to use one unattended watering system (sprinkler, irrigation system, soaker hose), from 6-8am and 7-9pm, according to their street address and the date:
· Residents of odd numbered houses (e.g. 1, 13, 57) can water on odd numbered dates (e.g. 1st, 15th, 23rd) of the month, between 6-8am and 7-9pm only.
· Residents of even numbered houses (e.g. 2, 4, 12) can water on even numbered dates (e.g. 2nd, 6th and 24th) of the month, between 6-8am and 7-9pm only.

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