Napier water crisis: Mayor blames residents for excessive use

The Mayor of Napier has blamed the water shortage on excessive use by residents, despite the council not turning off all their sprinklers.

Napier faced the prospect of running out of water on Monday night after reservoir levels became critically low. In a statement Napier Council blamed "extremely heavy water use over the hot weekend," and introduced water restrictions that meant no outdoor or garden water use.   

Mayor Bill Dalton told the AM Show on Tuesday morning water use in Napier went up to around 570 litres per person per day on Sunday, the national average is 300 litres.  

"We have had four or five degrees above the normal temperatures. We have had excessive water usage.

"What happens is the reservoirs recharge overnight. Normally we have water usage up until around 8pm and then overnight the reservoirs recharge.

"On Sunday night they didn't. The reason for that is people put their sprinklers on and left them on all night.

Mr Dalton told the show steps were taken to ensure all the council sprinklers were turned off, however he said it was not as easy as just flicking a switch. He said by mid-afternoon Monday all the council sprinklers had been turned off.

"Our staff immediately went out and arranged to have all the sprinklers turned off. That had an immediate effect."

However residents reported seeing sprinklers still running at 5pm on Monday night at McLean and Nelson parks. Many took to social media on Monday night complaining sprinklers were still on at the two parks.

A picture of the Council watering McLean Park at just before 5pm on Monday.
A picture of the Council watering McLean Park at just before 5pm on Monday. Photo credit: Supplied

A spokesperson for the council said the parks needed to be irrigated because they had sports events this weekend.

Mt Dalton praised residents for reacting to the shortage and lowering their usage.

"We have had four or five degrees above the normal temperatures. We have had excessive water usage. We have told the people, they are very responsible and responded and in a day or two we will be back to normal.

"At the end of the day when you have water usage of twice the national average you have to ask people to turn the taps off and let the system recover."

Residents fume:

Many Napier residents are fuming that they were not told about the water shortage until Monday.

Reddit user ChopsNZ said he had to buy bottles of water and wanted the Council to better inform residents about the situation. 

"My tenants are totally reliant on water to run their businesses and no one has told them anything. Social media isn't enough. Get some vans with loud hailers in the CBD and industrial areas or use the Civil Defence system to let people know," they said.

"When he had the gastro outbreak in Havelock North the local Councillors were on the phone calling rest homes, business and schools to warn them what was happening and as many people as they could to let them know. Too late. But at least they tried."

Reddit user KakisocracyAndVodka said "I feel like somebody should have said something before you got to the point of running out."

Napier resident Meredith Prosser told Newshub,  "Bill Dalton should only be blaming himself for not letting Napier residents know the water levels were so low."

Newshub.