Auckland water restrictions double whammy for businesses after COVID-19 lockdown

Water restrictions have come into effect in Auckland as the city's dams continue to drain to levels not seen in almost 30 years. The regulations are a double whammy for some businesses already down-and-out because of COVID-19.

After only just getting started again post-lockdown, water blasters and other outdoor cleaners have had to turn the taps off on Saturday after restrictions began in Auckland.

"We will end up, really, with probably about half of our revenue dumped, realistically. We just don't know how that is going to pan out," said Ed Aitken of GutterCare.

A dam in the Waitakere Ranges is just 27 percent full. The boat ramp, usually used to access the lake, doesn't get close to the water surface. It hasn't been this empty since 1994. The reason is simple: it hasn't rained enough.

"We have had 35 percent of normal rainfall this year," said Joseph Chaloner-Warman, Watercare environmental assets operations manager. Other dams are in a similar situation.

But a valid reason doesn't put money into pockets.

"We need cash-flow, and in order to get cash-flow, we need the water to flow," said Bill Bartlett from Hello Window Cleaning.

To keep it flowing, Watercare has set up three sites - with more to follow - for people to fill up tanks with untreated water. But businesses say that is not practical and won't plug the drain on their accounts.

"Ultimately, we will end up taking a bath and losing money on those jobs," said Aitken.

"Allow us to continue with the exemption, so we can still continue to work from [Saturday]. That's the short-term solution," said Bartlett.

Car washes are out of business too, sports fields can't be watered and, for residents, outdoor hoses are banned. Breaking those rules is punishable by a $20,000 fine. But punishment should be the least of Aucklanders' worries.

"If we end up with a dry winter… next summer is going to be a real challenge for Aucklanders," said Chaloner-Warman.

A real motivation to use less water.