It’s time to get ‘woke’
about our tap water use

By Watercare head of sustainability, Chris Thurston 

In 2019, we woke up to a lot of things – becoming increasingly aware of our wastage and opting for more sustainable alternatives.

We cheered when supermarkets did away with single-use plastic bags, we bought keep-cups for our morning coffees, and we did away with balloons at birthday bashes – bunting is the new balloon. Okay, it may have been a little annoying at first, but it has become the new norm and the environment thanks us for it.

Now that it's the summer of 2020, I think it's time we get woke about our tap water use.

From the moment we wake up to just before we climb into bed, we are using water. Making a cuppa, showering, brushing teeth, washing the dishes - water is a huge part of our lives. But we are so used to turning on our taps and seeing it flow freely, we often don't give using it - or wasting it - a second thought.

The fact is that all of the water flowing from our taps is drinking water quality (Aa-grade).

Person filling a glass of water at the kitchen sink.

Every drop of it has been on an incredible journey from its water source through a treatment plant, reservoirs and pipes. At Watercare, we carry out around 250 tests each day to ensure the water that’s delivered is safe to drink, 24/7.

In Auckland, while our infrastructure and treatment processes are good, we still need to be mindful of our water use and not let our hose pipes run wild over summer.

Last month, our summer use soared when the city used a record-breaking 538 million litres in a single day. This was over 100 million litres more than our average water use in winter. It goes to show that when the weather warms up, our taps turn on – with a lot being wasted.

We deliver infrastructure to stay a few steps ahead of population growth; however summer peaks can mean that we have to carry out construction earlier than planned.

New infrastructure not only comes at a huge financial cost, it also disrupts the environment, increases carbon emissions, and impacts the communities around the work sites. Building new infrastructure to accommodate population growth is a fact of life, but building new infrastructure to support unnecessarily high use in summer is not.

An infographic map displaying Watercare's 'Hūnua 4 Watermain' project from Redoubt North reservoir to Auckland's central city.

As Kiwis, we pride ourselves on being green and taking the lead. Let's take the lead on this one by using the water from our taps wisely, especially in summer.

In 2019 we rejected our past wasteful ways and did away with single-use products for the sake of our planet. Let's continue this trend in 2020 and make every drop count.

Let's make 2020 the year of the tap!

Everyone can make simple changes. That's why we have created Water is Precious, a resource where you can find out how you can play your part this summer.

Chris’ top tips for

taming your hose pipe this summer

  1. Add a trigger nozzle to your hose pipe.

  2. Only water your garden in the early morning or evening.

  3. Cool off in a paddling pool rather than under a sprinkler.

  4. Surround your plants with mulch.

  5. Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your car. Only give it a quick spray with the hose pipe at the end.

Chris’ top tips for

taming your hose pipe this summer

Three things you may not know
about your water supply
  1. Most of Auckland’s water comes from dams in the Hūnua and Waitākere ranges. A lot of water also comes from the Waikato River.
  2. We plan to spend $1.9 billion on new water infrastructure over the next 10 years. 
  3. All of the money you pay for your water goes back into delivering the service. We do not set out to make a profit and cannot pay our shareholder a dividend. We also do not receive money from Auckland Council or government.