Wellington's leaky pipes may force residents to take two-minute showers

Wellington is running out of water faster than expected, with residents being warned they might be limited to two-minute showers over summer - and leaky water pipes are to blame.

Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons told Newshub the capital isn't far from being a sieve. 

"Wellington leaks like a sieve. We've got major problems with leaks, Wellington Water needs to invest in leak detection and leak repair urgently."

Wellington Water CEO Colin Crampton said the water utility company is working to do just that.

"We're steadily building our capability to address the leaks across the network - but the problem is we have to respond to the increasing number."

And without the resources to fix all the leaks, Crampton warned Wellingtonians may face water restrictions.

"Conserve water over those dry summer months as much as they possibly can."

In the worst-case scenario, households will be restricted to two-minute showers. So how do residents of Wellington feel about it?

"How are they going to measure that, trust us?" one asked.

"It's also kind of ridiculous," another said.

"That's fine by me I find it harder to last longer than two minutes in a shower anyway."

"Oh I did Girl Guides so I'll be alright."

Wellington Water plans for each person in the region to use an average of 374 litres a day, but in the past two years, that's jumped to 383 litres.

And this yellow line shows water usage had been trending downwards until 2016.

Wellington's water usage.
Wellington's water usage. Photo credit: Newshub

But then it started increasing.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster puts that down to the Kaikoura earthquake, which he believes damaged pipes.

"It's not rocket science to work out that if the buildings have been damaged, underground services going to be damaged too - so we're not certain but it's pretty likely."

He's told Wellington Water to develop a better asset management plan, though Fitzsimons isn't holding her breath.

"I don't have confidence in Wellington Water, and this shows why Wellington needs to embrace the Three Waters reforms so we can see proper investment in our water infrastructure."

"We're going to re-assess our actions and funding proposals that we've prepared and put that back to the water committee in October," said Crampton.