Being a Wai Warrior: as Kiwi as BBQs and cricket

Local News People

Our summer’s been a bit of a mixed bag weather-wise, but lately we’ve been seeing more of the hot, dry weather!

That also means that our rivers and streams that supply our drinking water are under increasing stress as their flows get lower with each dry day.

Rivers and streams are the source of three of our public water supplies: New Plymouth, Inglewood and Okato. Their flows depend entirely on rainfall. 

Of course it’s not just us who rely on these streams and rivers: there are untold numbers of aquatic creatures who need these waterways to be deep enough to provide a cool, healthy environment for them. A shallow stream is a warm stream, and it puts our water ecosystems under stress.

From a Wai Warrior water conservation point of view we’ve been lucky to have the occasional rainfall to charge up the rivers again, but they drop quickly and soon heat up when the sun comes out. We face the challenge of leaving enough water to keep our streams and rivers healthy while also providing enough water for cooking, cleaning and industry.

New Plymouth District is one of the thirstiest places in New Zealand. Our water use is up to 60% higher than comparable areas in New Zealand; that’s something that we can fix without spending millions on our water network to increase water storage.

We can do it by changing our habits.

Up to 65 per cent of all of our water is used by households – but only one-fifth of that is used for drinking or cooking.

That means we have a lot of scope for cutting down how much water we use in summer as well as throughout the year, leaving more in our rivers for fish and other critters to survive (and for us to swim in and enjoy).

Water conservation should be as much a part of our way of life as BBQs and cricket.

From early March we’re going to be asking for feedback from people about our water conservation plan which is part of our 10-year plan. This plan will build on the work council already does to conserve water, such as spending more money fixing leaky pipes, making council buildings more water efficient and introducing a green plumber to help our community do their bit to conserve water.  Another key feature of the plan is the introduction of water meters.

Our industrial and commercial water supplies already have water meters and we think water meters on our residential supplies could reduce our district’s water usage by 25% each year, leading to savings of $121 million over the next 30 years, and helping keep our natural water supplies healthy too.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t all play our part as Wai Warriors now.

It doesn’t take big changes to make a difference: just tweaking our daily habits will lead to sizeable water savings, and it can be easy as one, two, three.

One: be aware of how much water you use

Pay attention to how long everyone in your household uses the shower. Do you use a hose to clean the car, house windows or driveway? Do any taps leak?

Two: make easy tweaks to cut down use

If you’re watering the garden, reduce how much you lose to evaporation by watering only in the evening or early morning, and not when it’s windy; and put down mulch. (Up to 70 per cent of water in a garden can be lost to evaporation.)

Fill a 1L milk bottle with stones and pop it into the toilet cistern to save one litre of water every time you flush.

Put a time limit on showers.

Use a bucket and sponge for washing the car and a broom for cleaning the driveway, not the hose.

Dont leave the tap running when brushing teeth or shaving; and when cleaning vegetables or washing dishes, pop the plug in.

Three: make it fun

Set up a family challenge to see who can use the least water for daily tasks.

Get your children to help choose native plants for the garden that can thrive in local conditions, needing less additional watering.

Look online to see how to build your own rainwater harvesting system and make it a family project this weekend.

Go camping – and find out how little water you really need to use!

Our water is a precious resource – let’s be Wai Warriors and make every drop count.

Residential water restrictions in New Plymouth District run until 31 March. Use hand-held hoses only on the odds and evens system – at odd-numbered houses on odd-numbered days and even-numbered houses on even-numbered days. Unattended hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems are banned during this period. In Okato level 2 restrictions apply from Saturday 27 February. Find out more about water restrictions.

David Langford, NPDC Group Manager Planning and Infrastructure