27 Mar 2013

Little prospect of enough rain to ease water bans

8:55 pm on 27 March 2013

Water restrictions continue in many parts of the drought-affected North Island and showers forecast for this weekend are not expected to bring much relief.

The Government declared a state of drought for the entire North Island on 15 March and added the Buller and Grey districts of the South Island's West Coast last week.

NIWA says parts of the North Island are the driest they've been in nearly 70 years.

In Wellington, where there is a total ban on outdoor water use, notices are being sent out to people caught contravening the ban.

Wellington Regional Council general manager water supply, Chris Laidlow, says a warning is usually enough to get people to follow the rules.

Capacity Infrastructure Services, which carries out water patrols for three of Wellington's councils, says it has given out more than 50 warning notices to people caught ignoring the ban.

A spokesperson, Alex van Paassen, says people are usually washing their car, or watering the garden, when they are caught or dobbed in by neighbours.

He says in the first instance people are given a warning notice but if they continue to ignore the ban they can face a fine of up to $20,000.

Auckland's 1.4 million people use about 400 million litres of water a day.

Watercare communications manager Mark Champion says the city's dams are 65% full.

Mr Champion says in dry periods the Auckland relies less on its dams in the high country, such as in Hunua and the Waitakeres, and more heavily on water from Waikato River.

In Hamilton, sprinklers can be used on alternate days while a total sprinkler ban is still in force for Greymouth.

MetService says a few showers are forecast for parts of the North Island at the weekend but nothing substantial is expected.