Serious restrictions on Auckland's water usage could be in place as soon as April if residents don't reduce their skyrocketing water usage.
Watercare's Head of Water Value Roseline Klein says water restrictions are typically a last resort and have not been officially put in place since the drought of 1994.
"We have a problem in the sense that if the weather forecast remains as dry [as] it is, we could not have the full reach-out we usually get for our dams. In that case, in April or so, we could start putting restrictions in place," Klein told The AM Show on Wednesday.
High temperatures saw peak demand records three times last week, the highest volume being 568 million litres on February 19. This month's average daily use is 535 million litres, compared to 534 million litres in February 2019.
Previous restrictions have seen a total ban on outside usage, but Watercare hopes it won't come to enforcing regulations and prohibitions.
"It is serious. We hope we can trust Aucklanders to work with us... I think as a country we've got to decide what's our future with this changing climate."
Klein warns that next summer could be "tricky" if Aucklanders don't start managing their water now.
"That would mean restrictions from the start of December... that's why we're asking Aucklanders to change their habits now to conserve our water resources."
How to reduce your water usage
- Sticking to one shower a day
- Limiting shower length to four-minutes
- Reducing outdoor irrigation
- Avoiding unnecessary water use (like frequent car-washing)
- Checking for and fixing leaks
- Thinking before turning on the tap
- Being efficient with pools.
Almost $2 billion has been reserved for improved infrastructure over the next 10 years, with water supply being a particular focus.
"We know that it's not an overnight switch," she says.
"What we provide is something that is critical for people to live. It's difficult to restrict or increase the price... it's penalising people who wouldn't be able to live without it."
Klein advises people to be particularly aware of their water usage on hot days as demand is closely correlated with temperature. Water usage significantly increases in temperatures above 25C, so monitoring cold showers and afternoons cleaning the car is crucial.
"We are facing a changing climate, which means we may need people to change their attitude significantly."