5 Dec 2017

Napier water crisis: 'There is no need for panic buying'

10:13 am on 5 December 2017

As temperatures soar around the country, some region's water levels are being hit harder than others.

Napier's water supply is at critically low levels and locals are being asked to urgently save water

A water ban is in place in Napier. Photo: Pixabay

It's been almost a month since Palmerston North, Masterton and Levin had more than one-millimetre of rain.

Napier's only been without rain for a week but could run out of water very soon if water restrictions are ignored.

Other places around the country are also imposing restrictions, as temperatures soar past 30 degrees in some regions.

Napier residents got the alarming message yesterday afternoon that their city was in danger of running out of water.

Residents are this morning waking to water in their taps, but are asked not to use too much.

An extra delivery of bottled water was sent to Napier supermarkets overnight.

A spokesperson for Foodstuffs, which runs Pak 'N Save and New World supermarkets, said bottled water sales were extremely brisk yesterday, but there is no need for panic buying.

As well as the overnight water delivery, another shipment is on the way to Napier today and extra deliveries will continue until the water situation in the city settles down.

The council said reservoirs are critically low because residents had been leaving hoses and taps on overnight.

Now they're banned from watering gardens and washing their cars.

Just hours after the ban was announced water levels at the reservoirs started dropping more slowly.

The council's director of infrastructure Jon Kingsford said that's a welcome sign that people are cutting back.

He said in some suburbs water was coming out of the taps black partly because a new bore is pushing water through pipes in a different direction stirring up sediment.

He said staff are being sent to clean the pipes and in the meantime people with the problem are best to run their taps for 20 minutes or so, until the water runs clear.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Ian Lilburn said the water shortage is restricted to Napier and the hot weather is not causing any supply problems outside of the city.

In Gisborne water use has sky-rocketed over the past couple of days but there are no plans for any bans yet while further south in Wellington people are still not allowed to use garden sprinklers.

Christchurch residents are being asked to save water after almost half-a-billion litres of water was used in the garden city over the weekend.

Councils around Canterbury are getting ready for a hot summer, with some towns already reaching 30 degrees celsius.

A Christchurch City Council spokesperson, John Mackie, said last weekend saw the most water used in a weekend since 2009, with 250 million litres of water used on Sunday alone.

Mr Mackie said residents need to start conserving water, otherwise the city will soon have supply problems and a drop in water pressure.

Water restrictions have not yet been introduced in the city.

In Otago plummeting river levels have stopped farmers taking water for irrigation from the Taieri River and there are also restrictions on the Pomahaka and Kakanui.

Farmer Gavan Herlihy said the past three weeks have been hard going.

Mr Herlihy might get his rain as early as Friday, up north in Napier no rain is expected until next Tuesday.

Meteorologist Hannah Moes yesterday told RNZ the ridge which has been over the country for a couple of weeks is starting to move east, but the hot weather should stick around for the rest of the week.

"There is a bit of a respite for the eastern centres on Wednesday, a very weak southerly will come through but it will still be warm with temperatures in the 20s, just not as high as 30.

"Comparing temperatures from this year to last year, this year we are in the late 20s to early 30s, whereas at the start of summer last year temperatures were in the mid to late teens."

Temperatures throughout New Zealand are also an average two degrees warmer due to La Niña, which causes high pressure.

Ocean temperatures off the West Coast are reaching levels that are 6.5 degrees more than normal, and is expected to rise even further his summer.

Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll says things could get even hotter.

Mr Noll said high pressure made the ocean more stagnant, allowing it to warm up quickly.

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