Auckland's current water supply to hit capacity in 15 years - Watercare

9 May 2016

Year 2016

Aucklanders are being urged to conserve water as a ballooning population pushes the city's water sources near capacity.

Water provider Watercare expects Auckland's current water sources to reach capacity within 10 to 15 years if predictions that the city's population will grow by 700,000 over the next 30 years are correct.

Watercare is responsible for supplying the city with drinking water and collecting, treating and disposing of wastewater.

The council-owned organisation lodged an application with the Waikato Regional Council in December 2013 to progressively increase its water take from the Waikato River from 150 million to 350 million litres a day.

Waikato Regional Council has indicated that Watercare's application is likely to be considered next year.

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said over the next 10 years, Auckland's growing population will demand a further 45 million litres of water a day, enough to fill 18 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Within 35 years, demand will increase a further 200 million litres a day.

"We just have to be very prudent and because of the long lead times we just have to start doing things a decade before," Jaduram said.

If consent is granted, Watercare will expand its Waikato Water Treatment Plant and build a second pipeline from the plant, securing Auckland's water supply for more than 30 years.

Organisations supplying municipal water, such as Watercare, were given preferential status should the available river water become fully allocated.

If the application was declined, alternatives would be evaluated with a desalination plant being one option.

Jaduram said Watercare was encouraging residents and businesses to reduce wastage and gross per capita water demand.

It launched a programme called Be Waterwise for Businesses and Organisations, which aims to help businesses be more water efficient and had a similar programme targeting domestic customers.

Watercare also provides a free water audit service to domestic customers and alerts customers to possible leaks in their plumbing.

As a result Watercare was on target to achieve its goal of reducing gross per-capita consumption by 15 per cent by 2025, compared with 2004 levels, Jaduram said.

Aucklanders are already using 27 litres a day less than they were in 2004 when the average customer was using 190 litres a day.

Between now and 2025 consumption needs to fall by a further 20 litres a day per customer.

Watercare made a loss of $55.4 million in 2015 compared to a $8.4m loss the year before.

The loss was partly due to infrastructure depreciation on its $8.7 billion of assets, and low interest rates reducing the value of its interest rate swap agreements by $89.2m.

Jaduram said despite the loss the company was in a good financial position.

Watercare was also pursuing new water sources for Helensville, Parakai and Warkworth.

- Stuff

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