Proposals for water conservation

The West Otago Community Board will today consider options for seasonal water conservation.

During its meeting on April 17, the board requested Clutha District Council staff prepare recommendations to resolve increasing summer water shortages in Tapanui township.

For the past two summers, water levels in the town's reservoir have repeatedly fallen below 50%, at which point issues can arise with fulfilling demand and providing for emergency services.

In his report to the board, council operations manager Gareth Phillips says at 500 litres a person a day, Tapanui water consumption is more than double the national average of 227 litres.

This could be caused by loss through leakage, or by over-consumption - particularly through garden use.

''Assuming the additional use is for garden/lawn irrigation, it must be recognised treated drinking water ... is more expensive ... and is the main area to be targeted.''

Typically, garden hoses use 900 litres an hour, and irrigation systems about 600 litres, making a change to ''consumer behaviour'' in this area a potentially effective solution, he suggests.

''A recent survey indicates Tapanui has relatively low leakage, so water use comes down to individual consumption.''

The report proposes several possible measures the board could endorse.

These include improved education and ''fire danger''-style signage, highlighting daily town supply status; installation of domestic water meters at a cost of up to $350,000; rainwater harvesting; system supply upgrades costing up to $1.7 million; water pressure reductions; and targeting of ''top 20%'' users.

Low-cost, ''information'' strategies could be implemented this summer without consultation; more costly infrastructure upgrades would require annual plan consultation next year.

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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