Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tauranga’s water watchers plan

A new plan to manage water use is aiming to change the way Tauranga residents use water every day. 

Tauranga City Council’s Water Watchers Plan will be in place from 22 November as part of a new approach to maintaining the city’s water supply all year round.

“Instead of introducing water restrictions reactively when demand starts to outstrip our source water supplies, we’ll have a plan in place that provides clarity about how we can use water in any given month,” said Tauranga City Council Water Services Manager, Peter Bahrs.

He hopes the plan will prevent the 30% spike in outdoor water use generally seen over the peak of summer and encourage people to use water wisely all year round.

The Water Watchers Plan also allows people to plan ahead when it comes to managing their water needs, he said.

Grouped into months, the plan restricts outdoor water use to certain times of the day, depending on the method used. For example, in November home sprinklers are only allowed to water gardens for one hour per day between 7pm and 10pm. From December to March they’re banned completely, but other watering methods are allowed at certain times of the day.

“We know that watering during the heat of the day leads to wasteful evaporation, so this is about using water wisely while providing the most benefit,” said Mr Bahrs.

Modelled on water conservation strategies from across the Tasman, the new Water Watchers Plan draws on learnings from our water conscious neighbours.

“In Australia they know all too well how precious water is – it’s been a scarce resource in many parts of the country for years – so it makes sense to look at what’s worked well for them and apply it to our situation,” he said.

After three dry summers in a row, stream flows in the Tautau and Waiorohi Streams, which supply Tauranga City with water, are at the lowest level we’ve seen going into summer, Mr Bahrs said.

The streams are aquifer-fed, which means groundwater levels need to recharge before stream flows can improve. Unfortunately, there’s been a lack of groundwater recharge throughout the Bay of Plenty Region over the last three years, and the latest Bay of Plenty Regional Council data suggests the region is in for another hot, dry summer, he said.

The Water Watchers Plan comes into effect on 22 November with more rigorous restrictions being introduced from 1 December.  

View the full plan 

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