From November 2019 to May 2020, Auckland experienced its worst drought on record, receiving only 60 per cent of normal rainfall.
Since then, recent rainfall events in September and October 2021 have had a positive impact on Auckland’s water storage, with dam levels rising past 90% for the first time since 4 February 2019. At the moment, our water storage is stable. Our water resources team is optimising abstraction from our dams to allow them to fill up as much as possible when it rains. They're also continuing to utilise the Waikato Water Treatment Plant to further help the recharge of our dams ahead of the drier months.
While those measures are great, we are still encouraging 1.7 million Aucklanders to do their bit and conserve water. We’ve been running campaigns asking people to conserve water inside and outside the home. When we kicked off in 2020, the dry weather was causing water demand to skyrocket over 500 million litres per day. Since that peak, demand has tapered off. Auckland’s collective daily water consumption figures are proof that you are listening, so thank you, and please keep up the good work!
Here are some small water-saving measures to help you conserve this precious resource:
- Spend a minute less in the shower - save 12 litres
- Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth - save 4 litres
- Use the half-flush when possible - save 6 litres
- Fix a leaking tap - save 33 litres a day
For more tips on how to reduce your water use, visit our water saving tips page.
about our water supply
From source to tap, a lot of effort goes into getting water from our local rivers, dams and aquifers and transforming it into the high quality product that flows from our taps.
It is the result of research, extensive testing, specialised infrastructure and the work of more than 1000 people. It’s that journey and extensive process which makes water our most precious resource.
Managing our water is a massive task, requiring significant infrastructure. Across Auckland we operate:
- 26 water sources
- 15 water treatment plants
- 85 water reservoirs to store water (concrete tanks)
- 9432 kilometres of water pipes
While we plan decades in advance and continually upgrade and maintain our extensive water network, big spikes in water usage can strain our existing assets. Becoming a more water wise Auckland means we all get the most out of the existing infrastructure.
A lot of Auckland’s water comes from dams in the Hūnua and Waitākere ranges. Prolonged extreme weather events like the 2019/2020 drought can cause dam levels to drop further than normal.
This isn’t the first or the last time Auckland will suffer at the hands of a prolonged weather event. During the first half of 2019, the ‘big dry’ saw total water stores drop to 59.2 per cent. On these dry days water usage often increases as people head into the garden to provide some relief to their parched plants. In February 2020, we saw daily water consumption get as high as 565 million litres, which is a record for Auckland, but not one we’re wanting to repeat.
While the weather is out of our control, how we use water is very much in our hands. If each of us adopts water wise behaviour we can reduce the strain on our precious resource, and when our dams are full we’ll be able to create a healthy buffer for when times get tough.
What is fresh water and where does it come from?
The amount of fresh water on Earth hasn’t changed in millions of years. Water that was once guzzled by woolly mammoths has been recycled through the atmosphere and falls from our skies today. However, what has changed is the number of people needing access to fresh drinking water.
Only 2.5 per cent of water in the world is drinkable. Of this, only 1 per cent is accessible (the rest is frozen in glaciers and snow), making only 0.0007 per cent of Earth’s water available to hydrate 6.8 billion people. That water needs to be collected, treated, and managed to ensure the health of those consuming it.
Auckland's overall demand for water is on the increase
A growing population and expanding businesses are pushing up the total demand for water. Over the past 20 years the city’s consumption has increased by more than 100 million litres a day. Though we’re prepared for this increase, we all need to be mindful of how we use water, especially during droughts when our dams are under added pressure.