Aucklanders face three more levels of tightening water use restrictions unless unforecasted prolonged rainfall can save the city from it’s worst-ever drought.
The council water company Watercare is currently enforcing Stage 1 on four stages of mandatory bans, and while restrictions might last in some form until mid-2021, it insists there will be no Day Zero.
In contrast to the Government’s four-level Covid-19 alert system which in reality started at the toughest restrictions, and relaxed as the pandemic’s presence faded – Watercare’s works the other way around.
Initial restrictions are light, the focus is on co-operation by users, and as the situation worsens, the restrictions tighten.
Around 1,000 jobs are already estimated to be affected in some way, and one forecast believed 14,000 or more could be hit, if the drought becomes much more severe.
Stage 1 restrictions, in place since May 16, ban the outdoor use of mains water – hoses, water blasting, or car washes on unrecycled supply.
Most of the savings in this stage come from voluntary changes in practice by major users, the largest of which Watercare is negotiating directly with.
Surprisingly, some of the things banned include the common practice of the construction industry to fill tankers with A grade-drinking water from fire hydrants, at no cost.
Commercial users are being asked to save 10 per cent of normal use, households a daily indoor saving of 20 litres per-person.
Auckland Council has given Watercare the mandate to move to Stage 2 should storage lakes fall to 40 per cent full – currently 49.2 per cent after a 4 per cent rise from recent heavy rain.
Stage 2 is largely the same as Stage 1 except there is a total ban on watering sports fields, and that continues until storage lakes fall to 30 per cent full – something never previously experienced in Auckland.
The savings targets for both commercial and residential users become “mandatory” but in reality enforcement would be difficult.
If significant time passes, without supply levels improving, the savings targets imposed by Watercare tighten.
Stage 3 is where restrictions – mostly on commercial users – become ” quite severe” in the words of Watercare’s chief executive Raveen Jaduram.
Household targets rise to 30 litres per person daily, and businesses must save 15 per cent.
Watercare’s plan refers to “full compliance monitoring and enforcement for repeat offenders where possible” but how or whether that would be possible is not clear.
At this point the water company envisages making…