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29 November 2019

Garden sprinkling will be limited to alternate days for Masterton residents from Sunday 1 December, as Masterton District Council (MDC) responds to a sustained period of dry weather.

The water restriction is tied to level of the Waingawa River, the source of Masterton’s drinking water, which has fallen below 2,000 litres per second.

Handheld hoses may continue to be used on all days.

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.

All watering would be prohibited if flows fall below 1,100 l/s.

The new simplified water restrictions system is designed to avoid any confusion among about what restriction is in place, MDC’s Manager Assets and Operations David Hopman said.

“As everyone will be aware, conditions have been very dry for the past few weeks. The introduction of restrictions will come as no surprise,” he said.

“We are very aware that many people in Masterton love their gardens, but we believe they can maintain these with sprinkling on alternate days, and handheld hoses.

“This year, the river flow level at which we introduce any further restrictions is actually lower than in previous years. We hope the weather will come to the party and help us avoid the need for any further restrictions.”

Under the current sprinkler restriction, houses with even numbers can use sprinklers on even days of the month, with odd days for odd numbers.

The council will continue to implement its own water conservation measures, including spending around $40,000 a year on leak detection. It also has an ongoing programme of replacing old water mains, uses non-potable bore water to irrigate sports parks, and has introduced drought-resistant species in public spaces.

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.