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From the Mayor

February 13, 2024 February 2024, Regular Features No Comments

By Martin Connelly

Firstly, can I wish all readers of The Star a happy and warm New Year. So far it has been the type of summer the Wairarapa is famous for: hot sunny days and blue skies. Beautiful days if we can find somewhere shady and cool to enjoy them.

Sir David Attenborough was recently asked by a five-year-old what could he do to “save the planet?” After some thought Sir David replied, “Live the way you want to live but just don’t waste.” He went on to say: “Don’t waste electricity, don’t waste paper, don’t waste food.” 

In New Zealand over $3 billion dollars worth of food is wasted every year, and we discard 17.5 million tonnes of waste. So, we should listen to Sir David.

Had Sir David been here recently, I think he would have added “and do not waste water.”  I want to thank everyone of you who assists us all by avoiding the waste of water.  Recently the Council asked people to water their gardens every 2nd day (this is actually a year-round rule) using handheld hoses.  From what I can see most people are happy to go along with this.  Most of us recognise that water is a precious resource that must be shared around.  It should be there for everyone to use when it is needed.  

Some people get a bit grumpy about these “restrictions.”  So can I say to those people that the Council is not restricting the amount of water you can use, you can still use the same amount you used previously, as long as you hold your hose while doing so.  People who hold their hoses are less likely to waste water by forgetting that their hoses are running.  They are less likely to randomly water parts of their garden that do not need watering.  A hand-held hose is less likely to over-water your garden.  

If we all do our bit to waste less water, then there is a much better chance that water will be available when it is needed.  For example, if your house goes on fire the fire-service will not need to worry about whether the water pressure is up to scratch.

Some people have said to me that they would be happier to go along with the Council’s request if only the Council would “fix the leaks.”  I understand that sentiment, leaking water pipes are one of the more publicly visible ways that we waste water.  What is more, during dry hot weather we see leaks that are not visible when the ground is wet.  

I want to assure everyone that the Council takes fixing leaks very seriously.  In the last six months 152 leaks have been repaired, 32 were fixed in December. A week ago, there were still 53 active leaks in the district.  If you are interested in seeing what is happening with leaks you might like to visit https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/water-conservation/leaks/leak-stats/

Wellington Water prioritises leak repairs.  Leaks that are spilling high volumes of water, or are a health and safety risk, or that could damage property, are fixed before less serious leaks. This means that some highly visible leaks might wait a while to get fixed. 

Water leaks are a widespread problem in New Zealand. Every council has a leakage problem.  One example is Wellington City where the equivalent of 27 Olympic sized swimming pools is lost to leaks each day. The main barrier to us repairing more leaks more quickly, is the cost. 

My main point here is that some loss is unavoidable in the short-term.  You and I should not get agitated about it, as there is little we can do.  But we can avoid wasting the water that we use, and if we all do that we will come through the present dry spell in good shape.

In the SWDC, we estimate that we lose about 40% of our water.  But much of this loss is not because of leaks, it is because of people with unconsented connections or un-metered supplies. We continue to work with  Wellington Water to identify this water loss.

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