High water demand may lead to sprinkler ban


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21 January 2008

Hamilton is coursing through water at an unprecedented rate, causing concern that a sprinkler ban may need to be put in force.

The high demand is peaking at 85 million litres (ML) a day compared to the annual average daily use of 50ML.

Water and Waste Services contracts manager Kevin McHugh says the usual summer peak tops out around 80ML a day.

"Water supply is not an endless resource. The city's water allocation is 95ML. We are only 10ML away from that. If there is not a reduction in water use then the usual summer sprinkling restrictions may have to be replaced with a sprinkler ban. We really don't want to have to go there if it can be avoided.

"We've had unusually high temperatures this summer. A lot of people are sprinkling their lawns to stop the grass from burning. This is particularly so in the new housing areas to the north east of the city.

"The high demand is contributing to a drop in pressure. The Huntington area is being affected by the demand as well as by the diverting of water flow to enable the construction of two underpasses that will be built by the Wairere Drive/Hukanui Road roundabout. We're taking some steps to further minimise this impact and normal flows will be restored by the end of February when that part of the project is completed."

Council is strongly encouraging residents to be careful with water use so that unnecessary waste is minimised. Staff will be strictly monitoring sprinkler restriction compliance – if you have an even number street address you can use your sprinkler on even numbered days and vice versa for odd numbered street addresses.

The $22m Water Treatment Station upgrade along with the construction of the 21ML reservoir in Ohaupo Road and the extension of the bulkmain system in 2007 increased the capability of supply to the northern development area. Previously it would not have been difficult to meet the current demand. A reservoir primarily to service the north east area is planned to be constructed in 2011.

Steps residents can take to conserve their water usage up to 45 per cent are:

  • If you wash your dishes by hand, don't leave the water running when rinsing them
  • Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator so you don't waste water running the tap to cool the water down
  • Don't leave water running while you clean vegetables. Put the plug in the sink.
  • Turn off the tap when shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • Nearly two-thirds of water used by householders during the summer goes into the garden. Often it is wasted, and too little is absorbed by the plants.
  • Avoid watering in the heat of the day or in windy weather – water either in the early morning or late evening
  • Water your plants every forth day in the summer, but water for longer periods. This makes the plants hardier and encourages the roots to go deeper into the soil
  • If you have a lot of annuals or ferns, use a micro spray system. This will ensure water is absorbed and not wasted
  • Use a timer with your sprinkler. A forgotten sprinkler wastes more than 1000 litres of water per hour
  • Water the roots, not the leaves. Watering the leaves is not beneficial as it increases water loss through evaporation
  • Use a trigger hose to control the water while moving the hose around
  • Use good mulch. This can prevent up to 70 per cent of evaporation loss. Well rotted compost is best
  • Don't water the paths. Cleaning with a broom is quicker and more efficient.
  • Don't allow children to play with the hose. They can waste over 1000 litres of water every hour.

Further measures you can take to conserve water:

  • Use your washing machine only for full loads. Each time you run your washing machine, you use about 100-200 litres of water
  • Install water saving shower heads or flow restrictions. Many shower heads put out 20 litres of water a minute, while 10 litres is enough
  • Install or convert to a dual flush toilet. This allows you to use only half the water when needed
  • If you have a water meter, carry out regular checks for leaks
  • Commercial properties: purchase urinal control valves. These can save between 86 per cent – 96 per cent of previous annual water consumption.

Hamilton's sprinkler restrictions apply from 1 December to 1 March each year. The restrictions are a small but effective measure as everyone can use their sprinkler every second day and it is aimed to maintain the low cost of water supply and reduce water demand during high consumption days in summer.

If you have any questions regarding the restrictions, go to the website www.hamilton.co.nz/water , email WWSCustCare@hcc.govt.nz or phone the Water and Waste Services Unit on 838 6999.


Name: Kevin McHugh
Designation: Contracts Manager
Tel (Direct): 0 7 838 6891
Fax (Direct): 0 7 838 6998
Email: kevin.mchugh@hcc.govt.nz

Name: Curt Christiansen
Designation: Communication Executive
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6803
Mobile: 021 775 651
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6761
Email: curt.christiansen@hcc.govt.nz 

Page reviewed: 21 Jan 2008 12:00am