Balancing act as city slashes water usage
Hamilton City Council is slashing water usage across its operations, supporting the community’s water saving efforts as Water Alert Level 3 restrictions came into force for the first time in seven years.
Alert Level 3 means sprinklers cannot be used on residential or commercial properties, although hand-held hosing is still permitted so people can maintain vegetable gardens. The Council is monitoring properties which are flouting the restrictions and educating property owners.
City Waters Manager Maire Porter says city-wide reductions in non-essential water usage are needed as demand continues to put pressure on the city’s only water treatment plant. Over the last couple of weeks around half the city’s total daily demand is being used outside the home.
“The Council is looking at every aspect of how our organisation uses water as the hot, dry weather continues,” Ms Porter says.
Fountains have been turned off, the Parana Park water feature will not be refilled, roadside and median strip plantings have had watering reduced or halted, washing of buildings and bus stops has stopped and scheduled cleaning of fleet vehicles has been deferred.
But maintaining city assets worth hundreds of millions means saving water is not as simple as turning off the taps.
Ms Porter says action plans have been developed from the many different units which service the city, as the teams try to balance crucial water savings now against potential costs in the future.
“Ensuring our parks and sports fields are playable in future months means we have to understand how we can achieve this with the least use of water. We also use wetting agents to hold moisture longer and have carefully-planned irrigation networks to minimise water use. Our Parks teams are planning months ahead to be able to cater to the thousands of young Hamiltonians looking forward to their winter sports.
“We’re cutting watering to our median strips and traffic islands but this can lead to dust issues at intersections as the plants die off and the ground dries. We’re minimising water usage for street cleaning, but we can’t just stop it completely. Even with vehicle washing, we still need to ensure we don’t create safety issues by having lights or indicators obscured by mud or dust,” she says.
Ms Porter is hoping a combined effort from residents will see a large reduction in water use and avoid further restrictions – the next stage of which would be a total ban on outside water use.