Auckland dams full after wettest July on record

Source: Radio New Zealand

All of Auckland's western dams are full after the country's wettest July on record.

Auckland's Lower Huia Dam.

The abundance of water comes just two years after a record-breaking drought, which saw dam levels in the region fall from 90% full to less than 50% in the space of six months.

Today saw blue skies and sun over the city, but it was a different story last month when more than 250mls of rain fell in the region.

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The Lower Huia Dam is spilling over following the highest July rainfall since records began in 1863 and eight of the region's ten dams are at capacity, carrying a combined total of 95 billion litres of water.

The water from the Lower Huia Dam combines with that from the upper dam and is then transported to the Huia water treatment plant, which supplies about a quarter of Auckland's water to residents on the North Shore and in West Auckland.

Watercare head of water Suzanne Naylor said the forecast was for normal or above-normal rainfall for the remainder of winter and into spring.

But she said despite the full dams, residents should continue to be conscious of their water use.

A person watering their garden (file picture).

"We are really noticing now that demand is creeping back up to where it was before Covid, before the drought, so it's just a really important message to Aucklanders to really still continue to use water wisely; water is still a precious resource and we still need to manage it really carefully."

Dam technician Chris Oord looks after the five dams in the Waitākere area.

A lot of his time is spent in the hydraulic room, where he compares dam data collected electronically with his own visual observations.

"The change of water level in the dam itself will present itself in these gauges and we make sure that everything is above board," he told RNZ.

After recent weather events the team had been coming out more often to keep an eye on things, but Oord said the dams were designed to be full.

He encouraged Aucklanders to come and see the dams for themselves.

"More people are using these spaces, which I really encourage people to do because for people to come out here and see where their water comes from, it gives them a connection to what's coming out of the tap."

Two-minute showers and no outdoor water use likely in Wellington

Meanwhile, Wellingtonians could be heading for severe and extended water restrictions this summer.

A report says water usage is tracking much higher than expected in the region and severe water restrictions are probable.

Wellington Water said a sprinkler ban was unlikely to be enough to avert the crisis and tighter restrictions may be needed, including a total ban on outdoor water use and a two-minute limit on showers.

The agency said fixing leaky pipes to stop wastage was a major priority but its capacity to locate and repair leaks was limited.

Te Marua's upgrade is due to be completed by 2025 and will relieve some of the pressure but it will not help with extended dry periods.

Finding a new water source and bringing it on stream will cost at least $800 million.