Environment – A word on water

We may have been in lockdown again recently, but one of the silver linings was that we had rain. Good steady precipitation to ease some of the impacts of a very dry summer. But despite the rainfall we have had, water restrictions are still in place in Auckland, with dams still only at 60 per cent capacity. Water tables are low, with farmers having to cope with natural springs and bores drying up. We are still trying to work our way back from the impact of the drought and water shortages of last summer. Also, rainfall in Aotearoa New Zealand is generally incredibly patchy.  I used to watch pennies from heaven falling in Warkworth but found that precipitation stopped where the tarseal did in Kaipara Flats – never quite reaching as far as our Tauhoa farm.

Saving water is everyone’s responsibility. Keeping a watch on your water levels is obvious but so easily overlooked, especially when family and friends descend over the summer holidays.  This will, of course, increase water usage. Use one of the many NZ calculators to measure the household water consumption and work out where you can make savings. Remember, 27 per cent of a household’s water use is in the shower, and 23 per cent from the washing machine.

Be sure to harvest the rainfall we do get. One alternative is to utilise one or more of the smaller 1000-litre cube tanks to supplement what you already have. They aren’t beautiful, but they are effective. Keep your gutters clear to collect everything you can. Check your tanks and pipes regularly so you can quickly repair any leaks. There’s nothing worse than getting a delivery of water only to find the dry weather has cracked a tank or pipe and you lose it before you can use it. Order water early and in advance. If, as the date of delivery approaches, you find that you don’t need it, then cancel.  Don’t leave either the ordering or the cancelling to the last minute – our water carriers would appreciate that.

For our keen gardeners, mulch is your friend. Growing up on the farm, we connected the washing machine outlet to a separate water tank and used that water on our gardens.

There are several places you can go with lots of information and tips on water management.  Watercare has a drought response page and Water for Life is a new website focused on this precious resource. The local community response network is also keeping in touch with Auckland Emergency Management should a higher level of response be needed.  In the meantime, a rain dance or two couldn’t hurt!

By Anne Dickson,
Secretary Mahurangi East Community Response Group