|3 January 2022
Ongoing dry conditions have forced Masterton District Council to introduce water restrictions for the first time this summer.
Garden sprinklers may now only be used on alternate days.
Restrictions are linked to flow levels in the Waingawa River, the source of Masterton’s drinking water.
When the river’s flow rate falls below 2,000 litres per second, sprinkler use is limited to alternate days – odd numbered houses on odd days, evens on even days.
Restrictions are publicised on the Council’s website and Facebook pages, and through the free Antenno app (available through the Apple Appstore and Google Play).
There are also Council billboards on Chapel Street, near the fire station, Dixon Street, near Kuripuni, and at the entrance of the Masterton transfer station.
Council Chief Executive David Hopman said pre-Christmas restrictions were common, and the January start had allowed gardeners to prepare.
“We were lucky with rain in December, meaning a relatively late start to restrictions, but gardeners will be familiar with how restrictions work, and there are steps they can take to manage the conditions.
“Spreading mulch is one way to reduce the loss of moisture, and some form of water storage is useful to save water when it does rain.”
The restriction on sprinkler use will remain in place until the end of summer – the end of March – with a complete sprinkler ban put in place 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.
“While the restriction on sprinkler use will now remain in place until the end of summer, we will be responsive to changing river flows when imposing or lifting other restrictions,” Mr Hopman said. “Gardeners should be aware that some changes are likely, depending on rainfall.”
Nearly 90 per cent of urban Masterton homes now have water meters installed.
These will not be used for charging purposes until the 2023/24 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 AWAY.
- 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.