4 March 2008
A complete ban on sprinkler use in Hamilton will continue until the end of March following a review of local and regional conditions. The ban will be subject to a formal assessment of the situation every fortnight and if conditions improve significantly consideration will be given to lifting the ban earlier.
Water & Waste Services manager Shaun Hodson says that the domestic sprinkler ban put in place in January has resulted in an excellent response from residents and the city can be proud of the way it has responded to the drought.
"When the sprinkler ban was enacted we saw an almost instant reduction of 20 million litres in city water consumption per day. Hamilton has maintained theses savings ever since. Unfortunately however recent rainfall has not been sufficient to positively affect the wider situation and subsequently after reviewing the predicted weather patterns it has been decided to keep the ban in place until March 31."
Information from around the region also shows that neighbouring areas have had no relief from the drought conditions. Mr Hodson says that the city must be ready to provide support to our neighbours if called upon.
"This is an extreme and unprecedented situation for the Waikato and the city must take a prudent approach to its water management particularly when some of our neighbours are in a worse situation and may need assistance with water for their community's basic needs. We are in constant communication with Environment Waikato and Hamilton's neighbouring local authorities on the situation."
While Hamilton has experienced some rainfall over the last weeks and the weekend, precipitation still only represents a fraction of what should be expected at this time of year. Rainfall from 1 December to date was only 50mm which compares to 150mm being the last 5 year average.
General Manager Works & Services Chris Allen says that a common misconception has been that the sprinkler ban has been necessary due to insufficient investment in water infrastructure by Council.
"This simply is not the case. There has been prudent and tactical investment in the city's water treatment plants over recent years to meet the current and future demands of our growing city. The plants are designed to meet these demands and to treat the maximum amount of water we are allowed to extract in accordance with our resource consents. There is no point in investing in plant capacity that can never be legally unitised. Therefore when usage rates get close to or go over the resource consent levels, the system is put under pressure simply because it has reached its designed capacity.
"Hamilton City Council is only one of dozens of extractors of water from the Waikato River and the resource consent is in place for the rivers environmental protection. It is a precious resource and is not infinite. It is something we must respect and be proactive about keeping within reasonable levels."
Sprinkler bans remain in place until March 31 unless otherwise notified.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Name: Shaun Hodson
Designation: Water & Waste Services Manager
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6527
Mobile: 021 357 221
Name: Sarah Bettle
Designation: Communication Manager
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6843
Mobile: 021 2792338