Another Auckland water shortage ‘highly unlikely’ this summer – NZ Herald

Rain and wind sweeps across Hobsonville Point, Auckland – a taste of weather patterns the region could frequently see over summer. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Watercare is confident there’ll be enough supply for Auckland over the coming summer, despite dam storage levels currently running at 25 per cent lower than normal.

That’s been put down to a different climate pattern to the big dries of the past two summers – and new sources that will equip Auckland with an extra 40 million litres of water each day.

Auckland’s dams are currently sitting at 66 per cent capacity compared with a normal 91 per cent for this time of year – a result of the region’s largest drought in 25 years.

But a Watercare spokesperson said the position now was “relatively comfortable” compared to earlier in the year.

“Indications are that with careful management there is sufficient water for the coming summer.”

Extra water reserves were expected to come from several upgrades to bores and reservoirs.

A completed Pukekohe East reservoir, due to be officially opened today, would allow the Waikato water treatment plant to draw an extra 25 million litres each day.

Further boosts would come from two Pukekohe bores coming back into operation with a new modular treatment plant, an upgraded Onehunga aquifer, the new Papakura water treatment plant, and the returned service of the Hays Creek dam.

“Through the combination of new water sources and demand management, any shortage is highly unlikely.”

Aucklanders were also keeping their water use under target – Wednesday’s region-wide consumption of 403 million litres fell below the November target of 433 million litres or less a day.

“This combined with the additional sources of water that Watercare are bringing in will reduce the likelihood of further restrictions.”

The long-term outlook for Auckland’s rainfall levels was also positive, with a La Nina climate system expected to bring more moisture to the region over December and January.

“What we’re seeing here in this first week to 10 days of November is a good proxy of what might happen over December and January,” Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said.

It was an especially wet day in Auckland yesterday, with a rain band that dropped 61mm over Warkworth, 43mm on Whenuapai and about 23mm on the city itself in just a few hours.

“Over December and January, if we get a round of this type of rain in those months, it would be distinctly different to what happened in December 2019 and January 2020 – which was a very dry month for Auckland.”

Auckland’s current wet spell comes after a month that proved the driest October on the books in some parts of the city, and elsewhere in the country.

Niwa’s latest climate report showed Western Springs registered its lowest October rainfall tally since records began in 1948, while it was the second driest October on record for Whakatane and Akaroa.

In terms of mean air temperatures, it also the warmest-ever October for Cape Reinga, Te Puke, Ngawi in Wairarapa and Farewell Spit in Golden Bay.

It’s now been 45 months since New Zealand last experienced a month with below average temperatures – a trend put down to climate change.

Overall, the nationwide average temperature for October was 13.2C – 1.2C above the 1981-2010 average – making it the fifth warmest October since 1909, and the warmest since 2001.

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