Water restriction status signs have been erected at key locations in Whakatane and Ohope to remind residents of the need to conserve water until the current period of dry weather ends.
Whakatane District Council infrastructure general manager Tomasz Krawczyk says in recent years, voluntary water use reductions have ensured that reservoir storage for the Whakatane and Ohope water supply schemes stayed at an acceptable level, allowing formal restrictions on hose and sprinkler use to be avoided.
Tomasz says consumers may also have noticed a slight ‘earthy' taste in the drinking water supplied via the Ohope and Whakatane water schemes.
“The current dry conditions have reduced the Whakatane River flow, and combined with relatively high water temperatures, that has led to an increase in algae levels,” he explains. “To address that, we have increased the level of water treatment being undertaken.”
Tomasz assures consumers that the water supply is safe to drink. “Our water supply is chlorinated and UV-treated and complies fully with New Zealand's Drinking Water Standards. In conjunction with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, we will continue to monitor river conditions and algae levels while the dry spell continues.”
The council is also monitoring river water salinity to guard against salt water intrusion into the treatment system during very high tide/low river flow conditions. If necessary, water can be drawn from further upriver.
While there is no immediate threat, Tomasz says the council has put in place a three-stage restriction process, beginning with a call for voluntary reductions in water use. If needed, stage two would see the current blue ‘voluntary conservation' signs replaced by orange signs, indicating that hoses and sprinklers can only be used on alternate days, between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm. The third stage, marked by a red water restriction status sign, would see a total ban introduced on all hose and sprinkler use.
“We hope that restrictions can be avoided, but that's entirely dependent on the river flow and tidal situation and the ability of households and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use,” says Tomasz.
Water conservation tips:
• Bucket-wash cars or boats, if possible
• Don't refill or top-up swimming pools
• If you know you have leaking taps, fix them now
• If you see a leaking water line, report it to the Council as soon as possible
• Flush toilets sparingly
• Avoid using your bath and cut your shower time down as much as possible
• While waiting for hot water to flow through to showers or taps, catch the unused water in a bucket for use in washing machines or for other purposes.
Further information will be provided to update consumption and water storage trends.