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Water crisis continues – conservation still needed

Sunday February 19, 2023

Gisborne’s water supply is still critically low, says Ben Green, Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Controller. Businesses and residents must continue to reduce their water use to an absolute minimum for at least the next couple of days.

After a failure at the back-up Waipaoa Water Plant on Friday (17 February), an emergency text went out telling residents to stop all water use. Since then water use has reduced but we still need to be able to build up supplies of treated water in the reservoir.

Thanks to all those who are conserving water so that taps do not run completely dry, says Mr Green.

“We are still in crisis mode and need you to keep this up for at least another two days. We know this has involved significant sacrifice, especially for businesses who can’t operate and the impact on their employees.”

“Council staff are working around the clock to stabilise the city’s water supply but there are no easy fixes.”

The city continues to be at an EXTREME ALERT LEVEL for water use. This means all large industries and high water users cannot operate using mains water. Essential businesses such as rest homes hospitals, laundromats, cafes, takeaway and accommodation providers can continue to operate but must have water reduction strategies in place and be able to explain their strategies when asked by Council staff. If the water crisis worsens laundromats and food business will be asked to shut.

Moderate water users like bars, dine-in restaurants, hairdressers and dog washers cannot operate using mains water supply under this extreme alert level. They can still open as long as they are not using water. For example hairdressers can do haircuts but not wash hair.

For all other businesses and Gisborne residents using the city’s reticulated water supply, the message remains to reduce all water use as much as possible. Only use water for drinking, short showers and food preparation.

Council staff have been in contact with industry, major food producers and car washers who use large amounts of water to make it clear that they cannot operate using Council’s mains water supply.

“We thank them for their compliance as this has had a major impact on those business without an alternative water source.”

With continued restraint on water use, the city will be able move to the HIGH ALERT LEVEL. This means bars, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to operate but must use significantly less water. They need to have a water reduction strategy in place and be able to explain it when asked by Council.