20 Nov 2018

Are we running out of water? Is our water supply network too small? Today we address these questions and more.

MYTH: We're running out of water.

REALITY: We're not running out of water – there is a plentiful supply in the aquifers below Christchurch.  But on some summer days when everyone wants to water their lawns and gardens our water supply network struggles to keep up with demand. That is because there is a limited volume of water we can push through our pipes and pump stations at any one time.

Someone turning off a garden tap.

One of the biggest demands on residential water use is garden and lawn irrigation.

MYTH: Christchurch needs a bigger water supply network.

REALITY: Most of the time our supply network is more than capable of meeting the demand for water. In fact, 95 per cent of the time we only need to use half of the wells and pump stations available in the network.  We could spend millions of dollars putting in bigger pipes and pump stations, but then the city would be paying for an over-sized system that is really only needed for about 18 days of the year.  Instead, we ask people to be sensible about their water use over the summer and conserve where they can.

MYTH: People don't use that much more water over summer than winter.

REALITY: Most summers the residential demand for water in Christchurch doubles or even triples compared with the winter months. The biggest factor in that increase is people watering their lawns and gardens, which is why we often focus on that in our water conservation campaigns.

MYTH: You don’t practice what you preach.

REALITY: We are doing our best to lead by example. We’re trying to conserve water by only watering parks and sports fields after 9pm and before 7am. However, some of our fields have a sand base which must be watered during the day to prevent the turf from dying. If the turf died, it would be very expensive to replace. The Botanic Gardens has its own private well so it is not drawing water from the public water supply, but it is supporting our conservation campaign by not watering during the day.

MYTH: There are plenty of private wells the Council could draw extra water from.

REALITY: We have investigated connecting suitable private wells (those which meet Ministry of Health Drinking Water Standards) into the public system to help boost the network over the summer months. However, only one well in South Brighton has been found suitable. It will be connected early in 2019.