Turn off water, turn on smarts

Understandable but not in the spirit of water conservation. Photo: Nikki South.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. But happy to explain why.

The man who manages Tauranga city’s domestic water supply has responded to some myths and misunderstandings about water meters, water infrastructure and the need to conserve a precious and finite resource - our fresh drinking water.

It was prompted by Tauranga City Council, which last week issued a gentle advisory to residents to think about saving water as the city headed into a hot and dry weekend. “The supply is under pressure with high demand and is being monitored closely,” they said. “If water use continues to increase, a sprinkler ban is likely.”

Some residents were a bit miffed. “Miss something? Water meters were sold to us as the be all and end all of summer water shortages,” posted The Caveman on SunLive. Both miffed and defiant. “We now pay per litre! And as such I will use as much as I like especially when it comes to my vegie garden.”

Another commenter, Old Trucker, said: “Now they’re telling us to save water, why have we got meters then?”, and Centurion also grumbled: “We were conned into believing meters would solve all our woes. What happened to that theory? Come on TCC.”

The purpose of water meters is to measure usage accurately so that it can be charged fairly and relative to use.

It also provides people with the right information to manage water use. The city’s water manager, Steve Burton, says people have adopted positive water use behaviours which, on a per capita basis, makes Tauranga one of the most water-efficient cities in New Zealand.

Water metering resulted in an immediate reduction of 25 per cent after being implemented, which meant the city didn’t require seasonal water restrictions for 17 years.

But back on SunLive’s comments section, council priorities were questioned. “About time the council started to spend rates on necessary infrastructure (water and reservoirs) and forgot about a museum.” He refers to the $70,000 lifeline offered the museum proposal. The funds will enable a broader and more thorough discussion on whether the city needs a museum rather than the emotional “where and how much?” debate to date.

But SunLive commenter Caveman would rather water his lettuces than the city have a cultural institution such as a museum.

Groutby posted: “As we start to move into a very predictable summer, we should have planned suitable infrastructure for an equally predictable high use of water. I suggest we should reasonably expect to get it, but no. We are spending infrastructure money investigating ways to get a museum again after the rate paying public had put it to bed.”

The city’s water infrastructure has grown steadily as the population has increased.

Introducing water metering in 1999 has meant that current annual water usage has only just caught up to the levels experienced before then, providing an additional 37,000 residents with water in the intervening years.

Steve Burton’s business is water, not museums. He says over the past 20 years, TCC has been investing in the expansion of the distribution network, additional water reservoirs and the renewal of aging infrastructure as well as the new Waiari Water Supply Scheme.

This scheme is under construction and includes a new treatment plant which will be in service by the end of 2021. “This particular project is a significant investment in water supply for Tauranga into the future,” says Steve.

TCC is also building additional capacity to boost supply from 2021. “However, a key consideration of the council’s future planning is the long-term sustainability of Tauranga’s available water resources,” says Steve.

“So we need to view water as a limited resource whether there are restrictions in place or not. It is positive to see so many people interested in sustainability and considering what is best for our environment.”

And there are simple ways we can contribute to the efficient use of water – like avoiding sprinklers and watering gardens during cooler times of the day. He also recommends TCC’s free waterline services.

Call the council on: 07 577 7000 and it will send someone to visit your property and offer advice on water efficiency and check for leaks.

“There is enough to go around if we all use water wisely,” Steve reassures. “Our infrastructure investment is on track and alongside more efficient water use, Tauranga’s water supply can be managed well.”



Posted on 22-01-2019 12:51 | By morepork

Quoting from the message posted: "The Caveman on SunLive. Both miffed and defiant. “We now pay per litre! And as such I will USE AS MUCH AS I LIKE especially when it comes to my vegie garden.” (Emphasis is mine...). As a fairly frequent poster here I don’t make things up. Maybe you need to read more carefully. I don’t have a problem with people wanting water for their gardens. It is the selfish and reckless attitude that I consider reprehensible.


Posted on 21-01-2019 17:58 | By Slim Shady

Who said, “use all you want”? I don’t see it in any comments. Making up quotes is reprehensible.

I really hope that...

Posted on 21-01-2019 13:02 | By morepork

... the posters who defiantly say they will use all they want, have things like water butts to catch rainfall and use it for the garden. If you believe you have a right to "use all you want" then you should be looking at providing it yourself and not being dependent on a shared community resource. The attitude is reprehensible, but I can understand people taking that position when they see others wasting water. The museum and the water meters are just complete red herrings for the issue at hand, which is the judicious use of a precious resource. If you see someone wasting water, have a word to them; their wrong does not justify your wrong or make it right.


Posted on 21-01-2019 12:44 | By Told you

The TCC new more water was required years ago but this head in the sand council completely ignored doing anything about it till recently when they decided to build another plant about 5 years to late, as this new won’t be online until 2021 so in the mean time we have water restrictions. The sooner this lot of councillors goes the better, pity we have to wait until October.


Posted on 21-01-2019 12:20 | By Kancho

Seems everywhere infrastructure is strained and the smart growth strategy seems a joke. The city expands the council get funds from developers and water becomes another problem along with many other issues like traffic etc. Why are we always in catch-up? Smart growth strategy seems more about letting growth exceed our ability to maintain and provide for citizens needs. Water pressure has always been minimal in my area so the supply is only adequate. Yes metering is good to restrain waste and yes water is in shorter supply in summer but I can’t stanby and watch the thousands of dollars invested in lawns and landscaping plants die. So sorry council, I pay, I water and try not to waste, it’s the best I can do.

How much water does a sprinkler use?

Posted on 21-01-2019 10:08 | By Kevin85

During the sprinkler ban last summer, a friend filled his new 50,000 litre pool TWICE. Yet he did this within TCC’s rules because someone was holding the hose. My sprinkler works with almost no pressure, yet I was not allowed to use that.

Heard it here first

Posted on 21-01-2019 07:22 | By Slim Shady

“There is enough to go around if we all use water wisely”. Well, watering my veggies is wise. As well as sustainable and environmentally friendly. So, even with a sprinkler ban, I will continue to water them. Take action against those who waste it.

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