Aucklanders warned to save water after record dry spell

Many places in the North Island has just had their driest January to June in history.

The dams in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges have fallen to dire levels, and Aucklanders are being urged to conserve water immediately.

"We are really monitoring systems, making the use of our other sources [like] aquifers and rivers," says Watercare head of water value, Roseline Klein.

"We want Aucklanders to know that if we all start to be more efficient now then it will help us go seamlessly through the summer."

Heatwaves and droughts have been the story of the past six months and they're now having a major impact.

Watercare says total water storage is under 60 percent - that's 25 percent less than normal for this time of the year. The Waitakere Ranges dams have received 44 percent less rainfall and the Hunua dams are down 34 percent.

The last time Aucklanders were asked to conserve water was in 2017,  but that was after the 'Tasman Tempest' hit the city causing widespread flooding. Before that, the only other time Watercare asked Aucklanders to cut down on their water usage was back in 1994.

But the records haven't just been limited to Auckland. NIWA says the first six months of 2019 have been the driest on record for the upper North Island.

Auckland has received only 62 percent of its normal rainfall. Hamilton received 53 percent and Whangarei 44 percent.

"There's been a lot of high pressure that's brought more sunshine and warmer temps and prevented rain systems from impacting Auckland," says NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll.

Nationwide this year is the fifth warmest on record. And the dry spell is set to continue in the long term with the effects of climate change now making an impact.

"We are not getting the rain we normally get in the winter, it's a compounding effect after a dry summer then a dry autumn then a dry winter that can lead to issues," Noll says.

Advice from Watercare:

Find and fix leaks

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

Limit showers to under four minutes

Only do full loads of washing.

A message we'll have to get used to as climate change starts to affect our everyday life. 


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