Auckland Council’s planning committee fully supported a water conservation campaign outlined yesterday by Cllr Wayne Walker, who acknowledged in his motion that long-term solutions would take too long to introduce to resolve the current extreme shortage.
The region has experienced its worst drought on record, and an upgrade to treat Waikato River water hasn’t been completed. A long-awaited resource consent to increase supply from the river has also not yet been granted.
Cllr Walker argued that “the best time to build capacity through a network of home & business water storage from roof water is now, in time for the winter rainfall season. Aucklanders should be encouraged to install water tanks, and existing tank water & bore water households should be recognised & assisted where possible.”
It was a surreal meeting. Some of the committee (which comprises all councillors plus Independent Maori Statutory Board members) & staff attended in person at the Town Hall, others were online. While the debate was more focused on future water supply, it took place in the midst of an extreme shortage in the region’s dams.
Would the campaign focus on tricks to use less water now, or was it about preparing for the next drought?
It turned out to be about both, at the same time. It was like taking 2 steps forward, left & right simultaneously.
Perhaps most importantly, Cllr John Watson, seconding the motion, said the conservation campaign would add to the council’s moves to reconstruct its council-controlled organisation structure begun 6 months ago.
That’s an entirely different exercise from dealing with an acute shortage, but it’s an exercise that has at least begun.
The one comment that shook me back to reality came from Cllr Alf Filipaina: “’Our water future’ has everything in this motion,” he said. “We ended up basically getting nothing done.”
Notice of motion, Cllr Walker – Auckland water conservation campaign
Notice of motion
Planning committee agenda, 4 June 2020
Council livestream (& recorded meetings)
Auckland Council April 2019, Our water future discussion paper
Our water future feedback
Attribution: Committee agenda, meeting livestream.