Smartwater - Water Alert Levels

What does water alert level 2 mean?
Water Alert Level 2 means  you can only use sprinklers between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm on alternate days. Hand-held hosing can be used at any time.

​Is there enough water?​
All year round, there is enough water for people to use for household use throughout Hamilton. The problem in summer is that exterior water usage (watering gardens, washing cars, filling pools etc), increases dramatically, which can put pressure on supply to homes and businesses.

By using water wisely there will be plenty of water available for us all – some conservation and a small change in behaviour with how we use water in the home and at work can make a significant difference.

​Why do we need water restrictions?​
Water restrictions are put in place to help guide residents on how to be smart with their water and ensure there is enough water for everyone at peak times.

​Why did you move to Level Two when the forecast is for rain?
We have to make decisions based on what we think will happen, and despite forecasted rain, we still anticipate drier conditions overall. For example December for Hamilton has an average rainfall of 118mm, but last month we had only 33mm of rain. Overall, we expect a drier start to the year, so we plan accordingly. Rain is only a part of our water management equation, but we don't mind getting it wrong if it rains!

​Now it's raining, how come you don't lift water restrictions?
Our water alert levels all relate to outdoor water usage, so rain means people use less water on their gardens and outside their home. However, in summer it only takes a day or so of warm weather before we see outdoor water use climb rapidly. Rather than change the restrictions continually, we set the alert level based on current and historic water usage, likely weather predictions and recent rainfall data, Lake Taupo levels, water supply status (such as any unexpected issues with our pumps or pipelines) , source water quality (the possibility of spills into the river or algal bloom) and other factors including the end of the holiday period, public holidays and the like.

​There's lots of water in the river, why do we need to save it?
The water in Waikato River flows from Lake Taupo. Even though it looks like there is a lot, it is not a free for all. Councils (along with other river users) can only take a certain amount of water each day from the River. These rules make sure that everyone uses water responsibly and wisely. By putting water restrictions in place, its helping to ensure that there's enough water for everyone - and it also protects the ecosystems that rely on the Waikato River.

​Are we likely to go to Level Three?
If people conserve water, particularly their outdoor use, over summer and we have a few rainy days, we hope we won't have to raise the alert levels any further. But our first priority has to be ensuring supply for everyone in the city, so we will be monitoring the situation closely throughout summer. We also have to take into account rainfall conditions in the central plateau region, which provides the water for the Waikato River.

​When will restrictions ease?
Movement between the varying alert levels and restrictions can be triggered by a range of factors including rainfall, weather predictions, water consumption levels, river and lake levels and annual trend data. We monitor these factors daily to see if we need to change the levels of restrictions. However at this time we're not expecting restrictions to ease in the immediate future.

​What's being done about those who aren't sticking to the restrictions?
If you have concerns over water use you can report them online at or for more information please contact our Customer Services team on 07 838 6999 or email Please provide an address, time and date relating to your concern, so we can contact the property owner and advise them of the restrictions currently in place.

​Where can I find out more about water conservation?

Page reviewed: 08 Jan 2016 4:48pm