Residents urged to conserve water as dry spell hits Palmerston North

Published on 26 February 2024

Green tile with white text that says conserve water.

Palmerston North residents are being encouraged to step up voluntary outdoor water conservation efforts to mitigate the potential need for water restrictions.

City residents have done well so far this year and in past years, where we haven't required mandatory water restrictions. But that may change. The current dry spell, coupled with a hot summer and limited rainfall, is causing a significant drop in the water levels of our Turitea Dam, which supplies over two-thirds of the city's water, with the remainder sourced from aquifer bores around the city.

While we've successfully avoided water restrictions over the past four years, the current situation indicates that restrictions may need to be put in place in the near future.

This year, an El Niño weather pattern is affecting the country for the first time in eight years, which is resulting in more westerly winds, reduced rainfall, lower soil moisture, and causing higher temperatures than previous summers. Despite consistent water usage patterns, the lack of rainfall poses a challenge in replenishing the dam.

Mike Monaghan, Three Waters Group Manager, urges residents to adhere to the voluntary Summer Water Use initiative, which encourages limited outdoor water use.

“Our voluntary Summer Water Use initiative has worked well over previous years, but an El Niño means we’re not expecting any decent rain until autumn, which means we may need to look at implementing water restrictions in our city. For now, please try and cut back on watering your gardens and lawns every day. Instead, do this between 7 – 9pm every second day.”

If put in place, the initial water restrictions will mirror the rules of the voluntary Summer Water Use initiative but will be mandatory.

Mr Monaghan thanks the community for their efforts in conserving water through the voluntary Summer Water Use initiative, which has helped delay the need for restrictions thus far.

“Many towns and cities, including those around us, are already in restrictions but our community’s efforts with our voluntary Summer Water Use initiative means we’ve been able to ward them off, for now. Our city is extremely fortunate compared to many others around the country. We have planned well and have a range of water sources available. It’s important we all take a good look at our water use and see what we can do to conserve water this summer.”

Regular updates on the city's water situation will be provided through the website, social media channels, and media outlets, with another update scheduled for early next week.