Campaign begun to conserve water

Water is an expensive commodity, even in the Queenstown Lakes district which appears to have a plentiful supply.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council launched an awareness campaign on Wednesday to encourage people to save precious water.

The campaign's project manager, Martin O'Malley, said as well as the usual work on the district's water systems, the council would be informing people about water in a variety of ways such as advertising and speakers at monthly meetings.

Water reports to the council would be more frequent and, at this point, the campaign would be ongoing for the next three years.

Mr O'Malley said it was ''not all about water meters'' but it was an option for the council to guarantee a decrease in water use.

''It's been proven all around the world.''

He equated metering water with paying for power and said some people could be ''pleasantly surprised'' by what they would pay under such a system. Metering was being considered as a future water saving option, but all methods were being investigated.

''We need to get the facts as much as we can in terms of how much it will cost per connection. There's no point having the discussion if we don't have the facts.''

A main focus of the campaign is leak detection and remedy, as 47% of the water being pumped in Queenstown is lost through leaks and almost one-third is lost throughout the district across the eight water schemes.

''Some people may not be aware they have leaks on their property,'' Mr O'Malley said.

The night time flow in particular areas was being monitored to determine how much water was being used at times when there should be very little, as the majority of people would be asleep.

''If there is a heavy flow, that could indicate that there is leakage.''

The peak water demand period is typically from mid-December to the end of February.

In 2009, the council projected treated water could cost an extra $100 million over the next 10 years, and committed itself to reducing its use.

Mr O'Malley said the $100 million was ''a huge wake-up call''.