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Team effort encouraged to conserve water – Horowhenua District Council

By adopting simple habits Horowhenua could save thousands of litres of water an hour.

With drier and warmer weather around the corner, residents and visitors are being encouraged to adopt altruistic and easy habits to conserve water. Small changes made now could make a big difference present day, and for years to come. Mayor Bernie Wanden says, “Clean, safe drinking water is something we all enjoy, and something we shouldn’t take for granted. Weather reports suggest we are in for a long dry summer. By working together we can reduce the amount of water our district uses. We won’t need to take as much water from our beautiful rivers and there will be cost savings too”.

Saving water in your home

The bathroom is where we use the most water in our homes. There are easy ways to save money in this room of the house:

Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth or shaving

Cut back your shower time

Check your toilet cistern, taps and pipes for leaks or overflow

Switch to a water efficient showerhead or install a shower flow restrictor

Opt for a dual flush button for your toilet

There are simple ways to save water in your laundry and kitchen too:

Only do full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine

Use a bowl or plug in the sink when washing vegetables or doing dishes

In your garden:

Water your garden early in the morning or later in the evening to maximise absorption to the plants and reduce water loss to evaporation

Use mulch – good quality mulch can reduce water lost to evaporation by 70%

If you use a sprinkler or drip lines in your garden, set a timer to remind yourself to turn it off

Water your lawn only if it really needs it. To test this, step on the grass. If it springs back up, it doesn’t need watering. If it stays flat, it does

More water saving tips are available on our website horowhenua.govt.nz/WaterSavingTips

Other ways you can help – leak detection

Horowhenua loses more than 20% of our water through leaks. From water dripping from taps and toilets to more significant losses through broken pipes, it all adds up. Identifying water leaks at your property is a simple task that can greatly benefit you and our community.

You don’t need to wait for a plumber to check for leaks on your property. Check your property for:

Dripping taps in and outside your home

Obvious leaks from fittings and connections

Hissing, trickling or running sounds from your toilet cistern

When the weather is dry, look for wet areas of unexplained patches of green in your garden, lawn or driveway

Keep an eye out for water seeping through cracks in the driveway on dry days

Check behind your dishwasher for signs of water

Turn off your taps, hoses and showers and listen for running water

Water leaks aren’t always obvious and they can cause damage to your property or even compromise the structural integrity of your home. By fixing leaks you are not only reducing this risk to yourself, but our whole community also benefits through the reduced demand on water supplies and the treatment process. Learn more about finding and fixing leaks by visiting horowhenua.govt.nz/WaterLeakCheck

Property owners are responsible to repair leaks private side, and Council takes care of leaks in the public network. We have a monitoring system to detect any abnormalities in the network, but we also appreciate notification from our community if they suspect leaks in our district.

In November 2023 Council received a call from a resident concerned that a particular patch of grass outside a property always seemed to be soggy and had moss consistently growing on it, but other areas didn’t. Within hours of calling Council, the leak, which was causing 12,000L of water (enough water for 30 people each day) to be lost per day, was fixed.

To report a leak, contact us on 06 366 0999 or enquiries@horowhenua.govt.nz or use the ‘Report it’ function in Antenno. Antenno, a free mobile app which allows two-way engagement between Council and our community, is available to download from the App Store or on Google Play; just search ‘Antenno’.

Where we get our water from Most of our water comes from rivers and a stream that flow from the Tararua Range; and Foxton, Foxton Beach and Shannon are supplied or supplemented by bores. Because of the locations, water sources and treatment needs, we have four different water treatment systems located in Shannon, Tokomaru, Foxton and Levin.

As most of our water comes from rivers in our district, we need to take water sustainably. There is a limit to how much water we can treat and store, and in summer water demand increases as people fill pools, water their gardens more often and use water to cool down.

The flow of our rivers determines whether water restrictions are needed. If the river flow is low because of low rainfall, or we have consistently high temperatures causing evaporation and rain is not forecasted for a while, we have to set water restrictions so our demand isn’t more than our supply.

Council’s resource consent allows for up to 15,000m3 (cubic metres) of water per day to be taken from the Ōhau River, except when the flow of the river drops below a certain level – then, 13,000m3 can be taken. The average daily water take is 9,600m3 a day from the Ōhau River, peaking at around 14,000m3 when demand is high.

Heavy rain does not solve the river flow problem – if rainfall is too heavy, or if it causes slips upriver from the water intake, the water turbidity (muddiness) may be too high to treat. Excessive rain can also make it harder to treat river water to make it safe to drink because it can fill the waterways with dirt, sticks and debris. Sometimes water treatment plants need to be shut down until the water has an acceptable level of turbidity for treatment.

How Horowhenua District Council is investing in a safe and reliable water supply

Conserving water is a team effort, and Council is doing its part to ensure our community and visitors will have enough water to meet their needs. We are committed to finding and fixing leaks as we work together to save water in Horowhenua.

New state of the art monitoring systems were adopted in 2018 and we have improved our standards of pipe installation and quality control, pressure testing new networks and connectors to ensure there are no leaks. 40% of Horowhenua properties already have water meters, and new digital leak detectors will be installed throughout the district within the next two years to identify and remedy leaks to save water.

Council has also been working towards the most significant and aspirational Three Waters infrastructure projects in our recent history – the Poads Road Water Supply Reservoir. This project focuses on constructing a large water supply reservoir on Council-owned land between Poads Road and the Ōhau River.

The future-focused, cost effective and environmentally friendly designed reservoir, which will be between 600,000 and 700,000m3, will be built outside of the rivers corridor and above the flood level. A new subsurface intake in the Ōhau River will supply the reservoir and provide for fish passage. Council will seek a new water take for the remaining core allocation (the total amount of water which can be taken sustainably) of water from the Ōhau River to fill the reservoir. No water will be taken from the new intake when the River is at low flow.

 

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