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Our water problem 

February 17, 2020 February 2020 No Comments

Another summer and total water restriction in place again, this year earlier than ever. Living in the Wairarapa summer droughts and water shortages ever has it been and with climate change we can be sure that this ever will it be thus. 

The initial reaction is to say it’s ‘The Council’s fault, Councils away back should have started doing something about  supplying sufficient water’. Probably so, but maybe also a harsh call. While Wairarapa’s other councils only have to worry about a single town’s supply South Wairarapa is grappling with running three separate systems, with costs running at best estimates into many millions of dollars. Yes, something should be at least in the investigation stage. However realistically this is going to take years.

In the meantime if we don’t want out prize tomatoes and beans to keel over it is up to us to do something about it. There are two pretty obvious things most people can do: Save winter’s rain water and re-used water from you washing machine.  Obviously it’s too late to start saving rain water; however you will be very surprised how much water  your washing machine uses.  It’s pretty simple: capture that in buckets and save your garden.

On wider conservation the list of simple things which can be done are already well known: don’t run the washing machine or dishwasher  until it has a full load, better still wash dishes in the sink , the old way, dishwasher uses a huge amount of water. Don’t leave the tap running while you clean your teeth, hang used towels out to dry rather than rewashing them. Encourage your kids in to good habits conserving water.

On their  own these may seem small things but everybody get good habits it certainly adds up. Council can help by urging everybody to get on board by underlining what can be done supplying water usage facts and figures. 

Longer term collecting winter rain makes a lot of sense and this is where council could help. The price of household rain water tanks may be a barrier:  2.5 thousand litre tank costs around $750. Balder tanks, which require a frame are much cheaper 5 thousand litre $690. The tank can be mounted o a platform to provide gravity feed or small pumps are available from $200. 

The council could help in two ways to make purchase more viable. Some councils have bought tanks and pumps in bulk and on sold them to ratepayers at cost. Others have arrangements for paying them off over time with their rates.

Building consents could call for rain water tanks be installed instead of soak pits. And meantime check on leaking tobies.  

Rain water tanks can be put on stands to get enough pressure to trickle irrigate or fill easily water cans. Or on ground level and have a small pump deliver it at pressure.  Here again the council could play a part by arranging for a bulk purchase and/or a payment by rates option.

Mike Beckett

Photo caption: Harvest rain from these in the winter to save your garden in the summer



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