Conserving water in Tauranga

Mitre 10 Mega Tauranga Chief Executive Alastair Dodson (left) and Garden Centre Supervisor Lorena Stead (right) in front of one of two new 30,000 litre rainwater storage tanks the company installed last year. Supplied photo.

When Tauranga City Council challenged Mitre 10 Mega Tauranga chief executive Alastair Dodson to reduce the business’ water use, he told them to leave it with him. In the end the answer came from up above.  

“Hearing the rain on the 4500m2 roof of our Gate Pa store one stormy morning I realised we’d already built the perfect rain harvesting device, all we needed was somewhere to store what the clouds were producing,” he says.

A few weeks before Christmas 2021, the company installed two 30,000 litre rainwater storage tanks. Linked together by piping near the bottom, the tanks are evenly filled with water from the roof which is then pumped out to the garden centre through four different taps. 

“We have a lot of plants to keep alive in our garden centre, which is where we use the bulk of our water. We can go through between 2000 to 5000 litres of water per day. Once they’re full, the tanks will keep us going anywhere from 15 to 45 days,” Alastair says.

He says the tanks are competitively priced and the system is working so well he’d install more tanks if he had the space. In a Greenfields development he’d put them underground. 

“We all have a responsibility to maintain and look after our water supply, and as a sustainability focused business we take that really seriously. We know the streams that supply the city with water are low, we know it costs a lot to get our water to the high standard needed for drinking. It doesn’t make sense to waste that treated drinking water on our plants.”

Other steps the business is taking to save water include installing timers on taps in public toilets and staff break rooms.

They have also invested in a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled watering system that only swings into action when necessary.

Expected to be in operation within the next few months, the system will take the guess work out of keeping plants perfectly hydrated. 

“It senses things like soil moisture and humidity and if it knows it’s going to rain in the next day or so it won’t switch on,” Alastair says.

He’s noticed his customers are increasingly looking for water saving solutions too.

“There’s a lot more focus on sustainability - the youth of today especially are really in tune with it. We’re always happy to talk with gardeners about water saving solutions and plant selection, which can make a big difference. We also sell rainwater tanks, water crystals, seaweed tonics and other tools to help plants flourish with less water.”

Tauranga City Council water services manager Peter Bahrs says it’s inspiring to see the company’s commitment to saving water, and he’s keen to work with other businesses to help find solutions that work for them.

“Despite recent rain, the streams that supply our city with water are lower than ever. After three dry summers in a row, we need more than intermittent rain to replenish ground water levels and aquifers that have been significantly impacted by long term drought.”

The council is looking into alternative water sources, and the Waiari Stream Water Treatment Plant is expected to start producing water later this year.

Investigating how the council can support residents to install rainwater tanks by streamlining processes is also on the to-do list. But it’s not just about finding more sources of water.

“We all need to work together - at home, in the community and at work - to use water wisely and this is where our Water Watchers Plan comes in. The plan aims to change the way we use water every day and provide clarity about how we can use water in any given month,” says Peter.

“I’d like to thank everyone who is following the plan and doing their bit to save water wherever they can. Thanks to your efforts we’ve reduced the demand for water use generally seen in our city over the peak of summer, which is awesome to see.”




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3 Comments

Well done

Posted on 31-03-2022 18:28 | By Slim Shady

I was harvesting water off the roof in the UK in the 80s. What took so long?

Water conservation

Posted on 31-03-2022 18:12 | By davidt5

Truly there is no real shortage of water available to TCC and us rate-payers. Take less then 25% of the output of the Ruahihi power station as it enters the Wairoa river. The water has been collected from a large catchment area. Most of this water would not originally have flowed into our Wairoa river. Little real difference will be noticed in the river and the Tauranga water reservoirs will be full to overflowing in no time. No need for any future water restrictions. Problem solved in a very easy manner.

Just wait until 3 Waters kicks in

Posted on 31-03-2022 15:17 | By TheCameltoeKid

Mahuta will still find a way to tax this resource as she believes that Maori own the water that falls from the sky. I collect my own rainwater and treat it at my cost so under her 3 Waters garbage I will be deemed a supplier to whoever visits or stays at my property then subject to compliance rules and costs. She can take her 3 Waters debacle ad go jump in the lake! (see what I did there?)

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