Auckland Council relaxes water restrictions after drought rules

Auckland Council has unanimously decided to slightly ease water restrictions this summer.

The city hasn’t been allowed any outdoor water use since early May.

But from December 14, outdoor hoses can be used – as long as the hose is handheld and with a trigger nozzle.

It continues that no other outdoor water use is allowed.

The decision is based off advice from Watercare and projected rainfall.

Watercare had told council officers they believed there was sufficient water and projected rainfall heading into summer to ease restrictions following one of the worst droughts in the city’s history.

Since May 16, the city’s 1.7 million residents have been banned from washing cars, houses and watering the garden with an outdoor hose in response to the city’s dam levels plunging to dangerously low levels as the result of the long summer drought.

The rules were relaxed on October 12 to allow businesses to use hoses with a trigger nozzle outdoors. Commercial car washes also resumed and sports fields, plants and paddocks could be watered with irrigation systems fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff this week praised residents for respecting the restrictions – saying the city had saved 7 billion litres of water.

“Aucklanders have been fantastic in their response to the call to conserve water, with residents and businesses saving around 7 billion litres of water since restrictions were put in place.

“However, with storage dams still 19 per cent below average for this time of year, we are not out of the woods yet.”

Aucklanders were still being asked to carry on with their water saving habits, Goff said.

Watercare liaison councillor Linda Cooper warned restrictions could return in future.

“Taking care of a garden and growing fruit and vegetables is important for many Aucklanders’ wellbeing, as is carrying out those summer around-the-home tasks like water blasting and house washing.

“Using trigger nozzles and continuing to use water carefully and sparingly is vitally important. However, should water use get out of control, we may need to look at reimposing stronger restrictions, so all of us need to do our part to keep saving water.”

Watercare acting chief executive Marlon Bridge said today’s decision would allow residents to water their gardens, top up pools, flush boat motors and wash their homes and cars – but only using a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.

“Sprinklers and residential irrigation systems are not permitted. Home water blasters with trigger nozzles can also be used.”

Councillor Chris Darby said he “can imagine the most googled term over the next 48 hours in Auckland is going to be ‘trigger nozzle’ and where to buy it, what it is”.

Watercare acting chief executive Marlon Bridge confirmed talks had been underway with hardware suppliers, like Mitre 10 and Bunnings, for the past three months.

“We’ve made them aware of the decision making process.

We know they’ve brought in stock and in fact we’ve ordered, I think, close to around 10,000 ourselves to provide to some of the community-based organisations that we work with to ensure that not everyone is disadvantaged by the opportunity.”

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