A cow searches for edible grass in drought strickened paddocks in Waiuku, New Zealand. Drought was declared in March 2013 in several North Island regions, including the largest dairying provinces. Photo: Sandra Mu / Getty Images

9 April 2013 (APNZ) – Wellington's water ban has been lifted almost four weeks since sprinklers fell silent across the capital.

Regional authorities introduced a total ban on outdoor water use in mid-March after revealing there were only 20 days of water supply left.

They also started drawing water from the Hutt River and urged residents in Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt Valley to conserve stocks.

The shortage came after weeks without significant rain, as well as earthquake strengthening work which took one of two storage lakes at Te Marua out of action over summer.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council lifted the outdoor water ban at 9am today following rain over the weekend, but alternate day sprinkler restrictions remain in place in Wellington and Upper Hutt.

The council said recent rain had not been significant enough on its own, but public water savings and a promising forecast for next week meant the council was more positive about its ability to meet supply.

Water supply general manager Chris Laidlow said demand had dropped from more than 160 million litres a day to about 120-130 million litres a day, which meant the council did not have to use any water stored in reserve.

"In the event of continuing dry weather, we'll be able to supply water from rivers and the aquifer for four to five weeks before we'd have to look at using water from the storage lakes. Of course, this is dependent on demand staying at a reasonable level."

Regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde thanked residents for saving water and urged them to continue despite the ban being lifted.

"Worst case scenario, if we don't get the rain that we expect, we'll need to look at putting some level of restrictions back on, so I urge people to continue saving water.

"Just because the outdoor water ban has been lifted doesn't mean we can go for broke."

Ms Wilde said the drought had made most people realise they took their drinking water for granted, and saving water should not just be for times of drought. [more]

Wellington's water ban lifted


By Adam Haigh; Editing by Stanley James
17 March 2013

(Bloomberg) – New Zealand’s most widespread drought in at least 30 years may cost NZ$2 billion ($1.7 billion) as dry conditions across the North Island threaten economic growth, the government estimates.

“The latest advice is that somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion will be knocked off our national income, and as every week goes by, the prospect of it being $2 billion instead of $1 billion grows,” English said in an interview on TVNZ’s Q+A program yesterday. “We’ll be getting updated advice over the next few weeks from the Treasury as we prepare the forecasts for the next budget in the middle of May.”

Finance Minister Bill English warned last week the drought may curb economic expansion in the nation, where dairy exports of NZ$11.4 billion last year made up 25 percent of all merchandise shipments abroad. The central bank held the cash rate at a record low on March 14 and cited concerns the dry conditions may “substantially reduce economic output.”

Economists at Bank of New Zealand Ltd. have reduced projections for first-half economic growth to 1.1 percent from 1.3 percent because of the drought.

Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. (FCG), the world’s biggest dairy exporter that accounts for about 40 percent of the global trade in dairy products, said in a Feb. 27 statement that dry weather conditions in mid-December and January, particularly in the North Island, had resulted in a slowdown in milk supply growth. Drought was declared earlier this month in several North Island regions, including the largest dairying provinces.

Phil Rennie, a spokesman for the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, has said 2013 is the first time in at least three decades the entire island is suffering from drought.

New Zealand’s Worst Drought in 30 Years May Cost NZ$2 Billion

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