Water  |  19 Apr 2023

Peak water use has plummeted since excess charges were introduced which could see savings of more than $150 million, as well as improving the city’s sustainability.

“Over the recent summer period there was a sharp drop in demand on the water supply. As a result, water restrictions weren’t needed and pumping costs were massively down on previous years,” Christchurch City Council Acting Head of Three Waters Brent Smith says.

“Our data shows hundreds of litres of savings during historic high demand periods. We saved 3300 cubic metres of water per hour during the past summer – equivalent to 1.5 Olympic swimming pools. That’s similar to the amount produced by six medium-sized pump stations.”

“It also highlights that residents have changed their approach to outdoor water use in the summer months. We’re not seeing the water supply come under such huge pressure at peak times, which means people are heeding calls to water in the morning, use hand-held hoses and make sure irrigation is set up with water conservation in mind,” he says.

“When the demand drops like this and there’s less pressure on the supply, we don’t need to use all of our pump stations at the busiest times. This means there’s extra capacity within our network to deal with pump station issues and maintenance during summer months, and there’s plenty of water in reserve for fighting fires.”

It also means that long-term Christchurch won’t need to expand our water infrastructure as much which could result in savings of $150–200 million over the next 50–100 years.

“If the reduction can be sustained, we’ll be able to decommission some of our non-compliant pump stations to meet the Government’s stricter water standards, as well as save about $1 million a year in operational costs,” Mr Smith says.

“I want to extend a huge thank-you to residents across the district who have helped make this happen. It’s been so encouraging hearing from property owners finding and fixing leaks, and changing their habits to reduce their water use.”

A recommended change to the Excess Water Supply Targeted Rate that would see the average daily allowance increase from 700 to 900 litres for residential properties was include in the Draft Annual Plan 2023/24. Councillors will meet to consider the feedback and approve the final budget in June.

Information on how to reduce your water use and check for leaks can be found on the Council’s website. People can also check how much water their household is using through the online Water Reporter tool.