Water Restriction Levels
Please note: We are currently at level 2 water restrictions. This means, all unattended watering systems are banned – ie. sprinklers and irrigation systems. You can water your garden by hand anytime, on any day, so long as you don’t leave your garden hose or watering device unattended.
Did you know that Wellington faces limitations in its daily water supply? During winter, when rainfall is abundant and river levels are healthy, we can provide approximately 220 million liters of water per day. However, in the hot and dry summer months, river levels decrease, causing our daily supply to diminish to around 170 million liters.
While this quantity may seem substantial, various factors contribute to increased water usage. Aging infrastructure with leaks, population growth, and the higher average water consumption by Wellingtonians compared to other metropolitan regions in Aotearoa contribute to a fast accumulation, reaching up to 205 million liters per day in summer, depleting our stored water reserves.
The stored water is crucial for sustaining Wellington through prolonged dry periods, especially during summer when it's challenging to replenish the lakes. Unfortunately, as time passes, the water levels decrease, leaving Wellington with diminishing reserves until the next winter.
To ensure the prudent management of our daily water supply and demand, it is imperative not to exceed sustainable levels. This is where water restrictions play a vital role. They guide everyone on optimising their personal water usage, ensuring there's enough to meet essential needs and sustain the community.
To learn more about the water level restrictions and what they mean, please read below:
Water Restriction Level 1 - Use sprinklers every second day
Outdoor residential water restrictions start at Level 1. Water restriction Level 1 applies all year round for Upper Hutt and South Wairarapa (Martinborough, Greytown and Featherston).
- If you live in an even numbered house, you can use sprinklers or irrigation systems only on even numbered days between 6-8am and 7-9pm.
- If you live in an odd numbered house, the same rules apply for odd numbered days.
- You can use handheld watering devices any time, on any day, so long as you don’t leave them unattended.
Water Restriction Level 2 - No sprinklers or irrigation. Only water your garden by hand.
All unattended watering systems are banned – ie. sprinklers and irrigation systems. You can water your garden by hand anytime, on any day, so long as you don’t leave your garden hose or watering device unattended. For more information, check out Wellington Water's FAQs.
Water Restriction Level 3 - Stop residential outdoor water use
There is a ban on all residential outdoor water use. Businesses can continue to operate as normal, but please be pragmatic and responsible when watering. Following Level 3 restrictions can reduce the risk of moving to Level 4.
Water Restriction Level 4 - Stop all outdoor water use, reduce indoor water use
Water Restriction Level 4 means there is a significant water shortage. At level 4 there is a ban on all outdoor water use, and we need to reduce indoor water use to ensure there is enough water for everyone. To help save water, people should stop all outdoor water use, take 2-minute showers, and limit their laundry use to 1 load per person per week.
Download water saving tips brochure(PDF, 735KB)
What is Council doing?
At Council we make every effort to water our own gardens and grounds responsibly. We also draw on bore water at Trentham to irrigate our sports fields which alleviates demand on the treated supply. However, it’s not just enough for the council to conserve water – it is important that we all use water wisely to ensure that there continues to be enough for everyone.
What is a water restriction?
Water restrictions impose constraints on specific water uses, such as irrigating lawns, washing cars, filling swimming pools, or hosing down pavement areas. These restrictions may limit both the volume of water allowed for these activities and the designated time periods during which they are permitted.
When do water restrictions begin?
Water restrictions are now in place for the 2023/24 summer period. Level 1 restrictions began at the start of daylight savings for all councils in the Wellington metropolitan region and apply all year round in Upper Hutt and South Wairarapa.
We’ll let you know once the restrictions are lifted – this is usually close to the end of the daylight savings period, but the actual time they end depends on a number of factors including the weather conditions.
What level are we on at the moment?
We’re currently on level 1 which means If you live in an even numbered house, you can use sprinklers or irrigation systems only on even numbered days between 6-8am and 7-9pm. If you live in an odd numbered house, the same rules apply for odd numbered days. You can use handheld watering devices any time, on any day, so long as you don’t leave them unattended.
From 12:01am, Wednesday 17th January. Upper Hutt will be moving to level 2 water restrictions. This means, all unattended watering systems are banned – ie. sprinklers and irrigation systems. You can water your garden by hand anytime, on any day, so long as you don’t leave your garden hose or watering device unattended.
Why are we restricted to watering on odd and even days during level 1?
Sprinklers and irrigation systems are restricted to these times because it helps limit water evaporating in the heat of the day. Dividing houses by odd and even numbers of spreads, the load of daily water demand, and helps manage daily supply levels.
Does that mean i'm allowed to water my garden every night?
Currently Upper Hutt is at Level one which means If you live in an even numbered house, you can use sprinklers or irrigation systems only on even numbered days between 6-8am and 7-9pm. If you live in an odd numbered house, the same rules apply for odd numbered days.
- You can use handheld watering devices any time, on any day, so long as you don’t leave them unattended.
Every year we are warned of tighter water restrictions and a water shortage, and nothing happens – what makes this year different?
Water demand in Wellington is peaking due to rising leaks, high water usage, and population growth. Approximately 45% of drinking water is lost to leaks, largely attributed to aging pipes with a significant backlog of renewals. The region's water consumption is notably high, particularly in summer, exacerbating strain on supply during low river levels.
The finite capacity of the drinking water supply system, coupled with an increasing number of leaks, is diminishing the operational buffer.
What is Wellington Water doing to prepare for potential water shortages this summer?
To be prepared for an acute water shortage with Level 4 Water Restrictions, we are working with Wellington Water to prepare our response to the risk this summer. This will outline how we (councils and Wellington Water) will manage the situation and engage with businesses, other public agencies, and the public should this occur. We are currently working on finalising the plan with Wellington Water.
We are also letting the public know early of the risks this year so they can be prepared and understand what actions they can take to reduce their water use - this will help to reduce the risk of tighter water restrictions later in the summer.
What are councils and Wellington Water doing to fix the problem?
In the short term, Wellington Water is focusing on fixing the most significant water leaks (those that have the most impact on water supply) and replacing pipes. They are making the most of their available resources, within the funding levels set by councils in the region.
Wellington Water have assured us they are doing all they can to optimise their activities within current funding and prepare for the possibility of a water shortage this summer. Their three focus areas in response to this summer are:
- Water loss management
- Monitoring and advice on restrictions
- Water shortage emergency response planning
Why don’t you guys just fix all the leaks and then we won’t have this problem?
What else are you doing to fix the problem?
Wellington Water is also undertaking pressure management testing, to see how they can reduce water pressure without affecting residents’ day-to-day activities. High water pressure increases stress on the water network, which causes more leaks. Optimising the network pressure helps reduce leaks, and the amount of water lost through the leaks that do occur. This helps to extend the lifespan of the water pipes in the region, driving down costs associated with repairs and reducing disruptions to our customers.
We are also working with Wellington Water to help people understand water conservation best practice and provide some tips. For example, there’s a useful Water Calculator on Wellington Water’s website where people can find out more about their household’s average water usage and understand what can be done to reduce this.
How can you ask me to restrict my water use, when we’re losing so much water because of leaks?
We understand that the amount of water lost through leaks is frustrating, especially when we have to ask residents to conserve water. Wellington Water are working to fix these leaks as best as possible, and work as triage system. To find out more about what they're doing to fix our leaks or to report a leak head to�� https://www.wellingtonwater.co.nz/resources/topic/water-conservation/leaks/#L-leaks
With a real risk of a water shortage this summer, the best chance we have of reducing our water restrictions is to work together and bring down our water use.
The public can do their bit by finding and fixing leaks on their property, following water restrictions, and taking simple steps to reduce water use at their place.
What about additional water storage, wouldn’t that also help? Do you have any plans to invest in this?
Investment in increased lake storage at Te Mārua is one of the key actions we are looking at as a council to help solve the increasing water shortage issue and provide a sustainable water supply for the region.
What happens if you breach the restrictions?
We run watering patrols where we monitor compliance with the water restrictions and provide information on water conservation and the restrictions. We also investigate reports from the public of water bylaw breaches. People who are found to be breaching the restrictions may receive a warning or be issued with a breach notice.
If you are issued with a breach notice you have the following options:
- Write to Council, explaining why you violated the restrictions.
- Pay $150 to a nominated charity via Upper Hutt City Council.
- Ignore the breach notice and do nothing.
If you write to us and your explanation is not accepted, and you choose not to donate to charity, Council will prosecute you (also if you ignore the breach notice and do nothing). Please note that a guilty verdict will be recorded as a criminal conviction. This may affect your options or eligibility when attempting to apply for employment and/or travel overseas.
For more information, download our Water restriction bylaw breach flyer.(PDF, 94KB)
For more information on the District Court process, call the Ministry of Justice on (04) 918 8800.
If you would like to report a bylaw breach, please fill out the form below.
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