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11 November 2022

Call to conserve water as intake levels drop again

Thursday 17 November 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in


Call to conserve water as intake levels drop again
Water drips from a tap. Photo: SUPPLIED/RNZ

A good steady downpour in the central high country for several days to a week is needed to recharge the water intakes and stream.

Only two intakes are running at optimum levels, the rest are at 50 per cent and 70 per cent of their output.

Water authority To Tatou Vai’s Walter Tuarae-White said: “We are at 37 per cent below output across the 10 intakes with our total output this morning (Tuesday) at 12,951m3/day out of a passable 20,000m3/day.”

“I’ve never seen the Avana (intake) so low.”

The Avana intake is one of the biggest catchments and the most productive. Last week it was flowing at 17.8 litres per second at the most when usually it runs at 30-35 litres. This catchment feeds a large area on the island – from Avana right through Titikaveka, Arorangi to Black Rock.

Tuarae-White said two intakes, Ngatoe intake at 8 litre/sec and Avatiu at 9 litre/sec, have almost stopped.

“Things aren’t looking great and the need to conserve water is encouraged, unfortunately, there will be low pressure issues in inland/back road districts and elevated properties,” he said.

Rain has been forecasted for today, “hopefully it falls up in the central highlands and across the island,” said Tuarae-White.

“We have been watching this weather system coming from the west for seven days and what looked like a major drenching has dissipated as it moved east.”

Before the massive dump of rain some three weeks ago the intakes were sitting at 50 per cent, and some were producing less than 50 per cent.

“That rain that came (3 weeks ago) was great and pushed us back up quite quickly, but the impact on the water catchment really only lasted about two weeks in terms of the water levels,” he said.

Tuarae-White said the dry period prior to that rain “was so dry that it didn’t refill the streams” and a lot of the water ran off into the lagoon before it soaked into the ground.

He said there can be a forecast of rain but sometimes that doesn’t really correlate with what To Tatou Vai sees coming out of the streams.

“Like when there is heavy rain on the coast you need to look at the mountains where it needs to rain.

“And if the rain is not falling in the right places, we won’t benefit from it.”

For two weeks up until last Thursday, the To Tatou Vai charts had showed about 1000 cubic metre of water was lost each week, “which is an enormous amount of water, which shows that’s how rapidly the water gets used up”.

“And if you look around, you can see how dry the creeks are.

“Hence the reason why TTV are always reminding the public to stop running water continuously and wasting it.”

Tuarae-White said: “When the island gets a good recharge of rain in the creeks and streams, up in the valleys at the catchment some of the water flows over the weir and down into the creeks.”

The catchment is in a “healthy state” when this occurs – if no water flows over the weir “then we know we are taking everything,” he said.

“We really want rain that is steady for days and soaks in.”

People should have respect for water, said Tuarae-White.