Frequently asked questions

Why do we have water restrictions?

In summer, we get a lot less rain than the rest of the year and on top of this, the amount of water people use increases (on things like watering gardens and filling up swimming pools). The combination of these things puts pressure on our water supply. Water restrictions are put in place to make sure there is enough water for everyone to use during this time.

What are the water restrictions?

There are different levels of water restrictions in place depending on what what water alert level we are on. Official restrictions only relate to outdoor water use - but of course, we encourage you to be smart with water wherever you are using it!

Water Alert Level 1 means you can only use sprinklers between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm.
Hand-held hosing can be used at any time.

Water Alert Level 2 means you can only use sprinklers between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm on alternate days.
Hand-held hosing can be used at any time.

Water Alert Level 3 means you can't use sprinklers at all. Hand-held hosing only.

Water Alert Level 4 means you can't use any outside water systems.

Which water alert level did we reach last summerr?

Last summer 2015-2016, Hamilton City, Waikato and Waipa District Councils went to Alert Level 2, and were very close to Alert Level 3 but thankfully due to the community using water wisely and good wet spells throughout the summer, we didn't have to take that step for further water restrictions.

We’ve been at Water Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3 before, what would Alert Level 4 be like?

There would be no outside non-essential water use by domestic, commercial and non-residential water users. This means no hoses, sprinklers, irrigation systems can be used unless it's essential.  Alert Level 4 would require a significant reduction in our communities water use.

Will be fine if we get lots of rain?

Rain in the Waikato will be great for our farms, gardens, parks and local waterways however, for the region's water supply we need the rain to fall in our catchment areas - places where our water comes from originally. If rain is falling in your town, then it is good for reducing how much water people use (we see big decreases because people aren't watering their gardens or lawns). However it doesn't mean that our water supply is topped up and that we can ignore the water restrictions. 

There's lots of water in the Waikato River and in bores, stream and springs, so why do we need water restrictions?

The three Councils take water from various sources throughout the district.  The Waikato River supplies water for Hamilton City and part of Waipa's supply, rivers, bores and springs are sources throughout the Waikato District and Waipa District.  

Even though it looks like there is a lot, it is not a free for all. Councils (along with other river users) can only take a certain amount of water each year from the the different water sources. These rules make sure that everyone who is taking water uses it responsibly and wisely. By putting water resrictions in place, it means there's enough water for everyone - and it also protects the ecosystems that rely on the river and stream networks

There's lots of water in the Waikato River - why do we have to save water?

The water in Waikato River flows from Lake Taupo. Even though it looks like there is a lot, it is not a free for all. Councils (along with other river users) can only take a certain amount of water each year from the River. These rules make sure that everyone who is taking water uses it responsibly and wisely. By putting water resrictions in place, it means there's enough water for everyone - and it also protects the ecosystems that rely on the Waikato River.

Why do we need to be careful with bore or spring water?

When lots of water is being used, the flow to springs, streams and rivers can be reduced and neighbouring bores can also be affected.  If bore levels continue to decline over a long time, it can reduce the future availability of water.  A lot of rural homes rely on bores for their water.

For springs that are connected to coastal aquifers, over-extracting water increases the risk of saltwater being drawn into the fresh water reserves. This can make the spring permanently unsuitable for drinking and many other uses (irrigation, watering etc).  Raglan is one town that uses a spring. Taking water sensibly from the bores and springs also means that we are protecting our future water supplies.

How do the water levels of Waikato River and Lake Taupo effect how much water can be taken from the rivers?

The river’s depth is mostly determined by the level of Lake Taupo, as it is the source of the Waikato River. When there is no rain in the Lake Taupo and Waikato river catchments, water levels in the lake and river fall, which impacts our ability to take water from the river.

What does 'Alternate Days' mean? What is the 'letterbox rule'?

Alternate day sprinkling means residents whose street address number is an even number can use their sprinkler systems between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm on days with even dates (i.e. 30 January, 2 February, 4 February etc). 

Those with odd letter box numbers can use their sprinkler systems between 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm on days with odd dates (i.e. 31 January, 1 February, 3 February etc).

How can I learn about using water wisely?

Please check out our 5 R's Smart Water code and tips for great ways to save water.   Teach your children how to be a leak detective and save water!  Email us your tips too!

What should I do if I see someone wasting water?

It would be great if you could start a friendly conversation with them and explain what Water Alert level the community is on and what that means for them and their water use if you feel comfortable doing that.  Or you can fill out the Water Concern Form on this website.

Why can car wash businesses operate when we have water restrictions?

Car wash businesses use recycled water - so they actually don't use as much as people think. This is also the same for a lot of water fountains you will see around the place.