5 Dec 2017

Napier water crisis: 'I read about it in the paper' - MP

6:14 pm on 5 December 2017

A water shortage can be problematic when you earn a living cleaning windows, as a Napier man has discovered.

Water almost sold out at Pak n Save in Napier last night.

Water almost sold out at Pak n Save in Napier last night. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

Napier residents still have water today, but they are being asked to use it sparingly after reservoir levels dropped drastically low yesterday.

That led to an urgent call from Napier City Council for residents to turn off their taps, as there was a risk the city could run out of water, but infrastructure director, Jon Kingsford, says reservoir levels are now slowly rising.

Napier MP Stuart Nash, along with many residents, said they were left in the dark about the city's water problems.

Mr Nash said he would have expected to be told by the mayor or the council. He said he expects to have a briefing later this afternoon.

"Well what I can tell is that I was watering my camellias on Sunday and I had no idea we had this crisis and I read about it in the paper. So I think the Napier City Council might have to have a look at their overall comms [communications] plan."

Window cleaner, Ant Freeman, said the restricted water use is also limiting his ability to work.

"Being a window cleaner we're going to have trouble cleaning tall buildings because we use a water-fed pole so that's not going to happen today."

Mr Freeman said the biggest shock was the sudden onset of the water shortage, which he heard about from a neighbour.

"I was watering the garden at home and my neighbour popped over the fence and said 'you probably shouldn't be doing that', and I said, 'what's happening?', so it wasn't very well publicised."

However Ant Freeman said he thinks Napier City Council does a good job generally.

Another resident, Michelle said her daughter went to the supermarket last night before news of the water shortage broke and was surprised at the number of people crowding around the bottled water shelves.

Napier resident Michelle.

Napier resident Michelle. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

She said the speed with which the shortage occurred is 'gob-smacking'.

"It's berserk and I think there's a lot more to it than what [we've] been told."

Napier has been experiencing extremely high temperatures, which has led to increased water consumption, including people leaving garden sprinklers on overnight.

However, Napier City Council infrastructure director John Kingsford said the drop in reservoir levels was only a recent development.

"As of Sunday morning the levels in our reservoirs were relatively normal.

"So, the great draw down in levels occurred from Sunday morning to Monday morning. Where we would usually see a recharge overnight, the unique situation that we face is that did not occur," he said.

Mr Kingsord said this was due to a mix of warmer than average weather over the weekend, and significantly low rainfall last month.

Supermarkets had a run on bottled water yesterday but both major supermarket operators, Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises, said extra supplies have been rushed to the city and there is no need for panic buying.

The council announced yesterday the water reservoirs were critically low and many residents have sediment in their tap water.

The levels have improved this morning, but restrictions on watering gardens and other non-essential uses are still out the question.

The Napier City Council are looking to lift water restrictions over the next few days.

They said levels have replenished themselves enough to stop the reservoirs from running dry, for now at least.

They said in the meantime they will be halting watering all of the councils' parks and are thanking residents for taking the water threat so seriously.

One Napier resident, Jocelyn Holland is angry she only heard about the problem yesterday.

She thinks the mayor is responsible and should have let people know earlier.

Ms Holland said she's having to boil water at her home, before she feels safe drinking it.

Jocelyn Holland.

Jocelyn Holland. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Greenhalgh

The dry weather has also sparked an escalation in water restrictions in the Clutha District. The local council announced today a restriction of watering gardens one day per week with a hand-held hose. Residents can only water their gardens between 8pm and 8am, not during the day.

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.

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.

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