Tougher measures on water use as weekend approaches 03 February 2020 The need to conserve water on the Coromandel is growing more urgent as we head into another busy weekend and our water supply has become critical across our district. A meteorological drought has been declared for the top half of the Coromandel, from Whitianga north, with no significant rain on the horizon – a situation that’s not likely to ease until mid-February at the earliest. “We are getting told this dry weather could stretch right through to April,” our Mayor Sandra Goudie says. “With local water supplies at their lowest levels for many years, and scientific evidence of ongoing dry conditions, we are now heading towards a serious situation with our water across the peninsula, which means everyone will be required to take care and do their best to conserve water. “This is particularly important leading into the weekend, as we are anticipating greater numbers of visitors for the Leadfoot Festival, and more people in our towns generally as people take advantage of the Waitangi Day public holiday and have a long weekend,” Mayor Sandra says. “Our communities have been great in cooperating with water restrictions to date. Thanks for your support, but we all need to carry on and conserve this precious resource.” Preserving our district’s water supply by not using water unnecessarily is important for public health and fire safety. “Fire risk for our district is now extreme. If there was a wildfire, the demand on the already reduced supply in our catchments would decimate it even further,” Mayor Sandra says. “No matter where you are in the Coromandel, everyone has a responsibility to take care and do their bit to conserve water.” Council would prefer that people voluntarily comply with the restrictions, but we will be looking at prosecuting where restrictions continue to be breached. People can be fined on conviction up to $20,000 for breaching the bylaw. The latest on our restrictions Water restrictions have now been increased in Tairua (alternate days) and Thames (conserve water). These are the restrictions in place until further notice: Coromandel Town, Whitianga and Hahei - Total Watering Ban: This means all use of water outside the house is banned. This includes watering lawns and gardens, washing cars, boats, houses, and decks, filling paddling pools and playing under sprinklers. Matarangi, Tairua and Whangamata - Alternate Days: The water supply is under pressure. Hoses, sprinklers and garden irrigation systems can only be used on alternate days. If your address is an even number you can use your hose on even-numbered days, and vice versa for odd-numbered houses. Thames, Pauanui and Onemana - Conserve Water: Residents and holidaymakers are asked to keep using water carefully to ensure our supply continues. Managing demand with supply Water use restrictions are not just a response to the high numbers of visitors we have to the Coromandel over the summer months. Restrictions are required to help us meet the specific requirements of our resource consents from Waikato Regional Council, under which we draw limited amounts of water from streams and rivers, or pump it from bores in the ground, and then treat it to make it safe to drink. Supplies for our major centres are as follows: Matarangi - Opitonui River Whitianga - Whangamaroro River Hahei - Groundwater bore Coromandel Town - Karaka Stream and Waiau Stream Pauanui – Oturu Stream and groundwater bore field Tairua – Pepe Stream and tributaries Whangamata – Groundwater bore field Thames - Kauaeranga River and Mangarehu Stream The issues we are currently experiencing with our water supply is a huge increase in demand for water from our peak visitor population, exacerbated by the hot, dry weather, which has seen our river and stream levels dramatically decrease. This means the volume of water we can take from some sources is reduced to ensure we do not breach our resource consent conditions that limit the volumes we can take during times of low stream flow. Although demand for water is likely to drop across the district after this weekend’s events, and as the school year begins and visitors return to the cities, our supplies remain under pressure, with no significant rainfall forecast. “With weeks of dry weather, and no significant rainfall forecast, what it comes down to is that there is simply just not enough water going in to recharge our supply catchments,” Mayor Sandra says. “We are putting plans in place should we need to get water tankers to communities with critically low water levels, but at the same time we need to limit the consumption,” she says. Where possible, our parks and reserves teams around the district are using greywater when watering plants on Council land. This greywater is the discharge from our three state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants in the eastern Coromandel and meets resource consent conditions and discharge safety standards - it is perfectly safe to use in gardens. Long-term plans for meeting population demand for drinking water are continually being assessed through our Asset Management Plans. For the latest information on restrictions go to tcdc.govt.nz/water Tips to help conserve water Indoors Fill the sink to wash vegetables and rinse dishes. Turn the tap off while you are brushing your teeth. Only use your dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load. Promote shorter showers and shallower baths Use a bowl to scrub vegetables in the kitchen sink. You can pour the water on your plants. Keep water in a covered jug in the fridge. It saves running the tap to get cold water. If the toilet leaks or a tap drips, fix it right away. Outside If you have to water the garden, do it in the early morning or evening to reduce evaporation. Use a broom instead of the hose to clean paths and driveways. Check taps, pipes, and connections regularly for possible leaks. If you have rainwater storage, use this supply to water your garden or when you need to wash your car or boat. Holiday habits Remind visitors and guests that water supplies are limited. When washing your car, boat, trailer, jet ski etc. limit the use of your hose to a quick spray at the beginning then wash using a bucket. A running hose can waste as much as 10 litres of water a minute Please report water wastage and water leaks to our customer services team on 07 868 0200. 2020 a big year for our water treatment plant upgrades It's going to be another big year for our $16 million drinking water standards project - Tautiaki Wai Māori – with a second, brand new treatment facility in soon to be unveiled in Tairua (pictured above). This is year two of a three-year project to upgrade 10 water treatment facilities across our district as we keep improving the quality of our drinking water supplies. Our contractors Masons Engineers are busy on the final stages of the new plant on Tairua’s Hinemoa Tce, fitting it out with the latest technology and methodologies for treating our water including Evoca-supplied membrane units, new filtration, dosing and monitoring equipment. This Tairua plant is on track to open at the end of March, and follow the opening of the $2.8 million facility at Moewai Rd, Whitianga last year. Also underway is the new plant in Pauanui, where the blockwork is almost finished (pictured below) and work is expected to start on the roof next week. Like Tairua, this new new water treatment plant involves new stand-alone buildings, water and chemical storage tanks, along with civil works including earthmoving, roading and fencing. The plants will also have new machinery, telemetry and control and chemical dosing systems. Meanwhile, design work is well underway for the fourth new plant in Coromandel Town, to be followed by treatment plants at Whangamata, Onemana, Matarangi and Hahei. All of these upgrades will ensure our drinking water quality complies with the current NZ Drinking Water standards. The drinking water treatment plant at Thames was upgraded more recently than the other plants, and is not due for an upgrade as part of this project. "We're ramping up what we need to do to keep improving the quality of our drinking water supplies, as we take actions after lessons learned from what happened in Havelock North," says our Council's project delivery manager Andrew Boden. "This is a large and important project or our Council and we look forward to making good progress and introducing more new plants this year," Mr Boden says. Pictured above: Laying the foundations for the new plant in Pauanui.