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7 January

A sprinkler restriction is now in place for Masterton – the latest start to summer water restrictions in years.

Sprinkler use is limited to alternate days – odd numbered houses on odd days, evens on even days.

Restrictions are linked to flow levels in the Waingawa River, the source of Masterton’s drinking water, and the river flow has now fallen below 2,000 litres per second.

MDC’s Manager Assets and Operations David Hopman said for the restrictions to start after Christmas was unheard of.

“Water restrictions are normally in place in November – not this late in summer. But we’ve been lucky with a wet spring and early summer,” he said.

“Now it’s important that we take steps to preserve the health of the river by limiting non-essential water use.”

The restriction on sprinkler use will remain in place until the end of summer, with a complete sprinkler ban possible if river flow rates fall below 1,300 l/s.

Handheld hoses can be used during sprinkler restrictions, but all watering would be prohibited if flows fall below 1,100l/s.

“Water restrictions over summer are a fact of life in Masterton, and many other parts of the country.

“We are very appreciative of the steps Masterton residents take to conserve water and the council is doing its bit.

“We spend around $40,000 each year on leak detection, and the current installation of water meters will give us a better information on what is happening to water.”

Nearly 75 per cent of urban Masterton homes now have water meters installed.

These will not be used for charging purposes until 2021/22 financial year, but can be used to identify potential leaks.

If all taps are turned off, and numbers on the meter are continuing to turn, it may indicate a leak, and the council should be contacted.


Do your part, be water smart

The Council appreciates that not watering gardens may be a big ask for some people, but there are some handy tips and tricks that can help you save water both in your home and in your garden.

In your home:

  • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Fix any leaky taps, toilets and showers. Also fix dripping garden taps.
  • Install dual-flush toilets instead of single flush toilets when renovating.
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load.
  • Put the plug in the sink when shaving or washing hands, dishes or vegetables, and run just enough water for what you’re doing.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a rubbish bin; it takes a lot more water to flush down sanitary waste, cigarette butts, food leftovers, etc.
  • Install a shower flow-saver disc to your existing shower to not only reduce the excess flow of water but also your water heating bill.
  • Use water-efficient appliances, bathroom fittings and tapware. The “star” rating stickers indicate the water-efficiency, and there can be large differences in water use between products, so make sure to buy or upgrade to water-efficient when possible.

Outside your home:

  • Use a hose with a trigger to control the water flow and the start-stop action. It also helps direct water without wasting any.
  • Turn the tap off when you’re finished.
  • Use a broom to sweep hard surfaces like paths and driveways instead of trying to hose down leaves and twigs.
  • Use a bucket and sponge instead of a hose to wash your car and, where possible, wash your car on the lawn to prevent soapy water from entering the street drain and into streams and rivers.

In your garden:

  • Switch to drought-tolerant plants to cope with dry summer weather and watering restrictions.
  • Recycle bath/shower water or water used in your washing machine (also called greywater) on the garden, but only on plants that are not going to be eaten. Greywater should not be stored and should be used immediately to prevent disease.
  • Group your plants into high or low water users to develop an efficient watering system.
  • Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil and to protect from drying effects of wind and sun. Mulching also helps keep weeds out.
  • Weed your garden regularly as weeds compete for available moisture.
  • Leaf cover and lawn clippings left on the lawn serve as a good mulch to provide shade, slow water loss, conserve moisture and help preserve nutrients in the soil.
  • Test soil moisture every 4-7 days during dry weather conditions, and only water if needed.
  • Don’t let the sun and wind strip your plants off their moisture. Water your garden on calm days during the cool hours – early morning or evening – to avoid rapid evaporation.
  • Water your garden low and slow – plants take up moisture through their feeder roots and low, slow watering by hand is the best way to get it there. Moveable sprinklers are the least water effective.
  • Deep soak your plants to encourage feeder roots to grow deeply in search of water instead of sprinkling, which encourages shallow roots.
  • Avoid over-watering your plants as it encourages fungus, root rot, rusts, mildew and black-spot.