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Wellington’s severe water shortage likely to be a one-off, says council

Apr 10th, 2013 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

WELLINGTON’S recent water shortage was the result of a drought occurring while one storage lake was out of action.

Wellington City councillor Ngaire Best, says this summer has been an exception.

“In normal years, we would have two storage lakes, so this [current situation] halves the capacity,” she says.

The northern Stuart Macaskill Lake is undergoing earthquake-strengthening and being enlarged.

In addition to the dry spell, this has had a detrimental effect on water supply, leaving Wellington with only 20 days’ supply.

Ms Best says this is unlikely to happen again, even in another dry spell, because the storage lake should be operable again by next year.

The National Institute of Water and Air (Niwa) says New Zealanders should prepare for more dry summers.

Ms Best says Wellington City Council reviews its plans and strategies in line with Niwa’s predictions.

The council keeps a close eye on water usage, she says, and despite the dramatic shortage this summer, it is still hoping to defer a decision on building a new dam.

Wellingtonians have made huge savings on water consumption this summer, according to the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

However, regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde says rain across the region doesn’t mean the area is out of the woods yet.

“We need those conservation efforts to remain for the foreseeable future.

“The rain is predicted to ease off soon and there will be another spell of dry weather, so we need to use the current rain to replenish the storage lake.

Every litre saved now will help if we do go into drought conditions again,” she says. The current water-use target for Wellington is 130 million litres per day.

The ban on outdoor use of water has been lifted this week, but the regional council says that whether it stays off is dependent on use.

Work on the Stuart Macaskill Lake is expected to be finished in time for next summer.

The $13 million upgrade will provide an extra 400 million litres, a 13% increase.

During the drought in 2008, the lakes provided an average of 32 millilitres a day. The increased capacity will allow the council to supply 32ml/day for an extra 12 days.

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