Mike Yardley: Water woes highlight the waste of councils

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 3:24PM
Auckland has lost more water from leaky pipes than it has asked residents to save. (Photo / File)

Mike Yardley: Water woes highlight the waste of councils

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 3:24PM

It’s been revealed that Auckland's drinking water pipes are leaking at least 50 million litres a day, far more than residents have been asked to conserve during the shortage.

Watercare don't actually know how much water has leaked over the past five months - there was a huge increase in pipe breakages because of the bone-dry ground. Yet Aucklanders have been directed to save 30 million litres a day, when over 50 million litres is wasted away through leaks.

For context, the entire city of Dunedin uses 40 million litres a day, less than what Auckland is wasting in leakages.

Watercare’s chief executive Raveen Jaduram admits they aren’t even meeting their own leakage target, which is 13 per cent or less.

But if you think 13 per cent sounds egregious, many towns and cities around New Zealand average 18 per cent in leaked water supply.

Living in Christchurch, in my hometown, it’s an undiluted dog’s breakfast. And you only have to note how many water main blowouts get mentioned virtually every day, every week on Time Saver Traffic, to realise how much water is literally running down the drain.

Last year, the Christchurch City Council estimates they lost 9 billion litres of water through leaks and broken pipes and faults. That's the equivalent of 70 Olympic-size swimming pools a week.

So Auckland loses at least 50 million litres a day. Christchurch loses 26 million a day. But in Christchurch, that represents a loss rate of eighteen point four per cent through leaks. The council is promising to do better. Their target for this year is to only lose fifteen per cent. You can’t make this stuff up.

What a potent metaphor for council waste at its most gratuitous. The squander. The neglect.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if councils, up and down the country, actually invested properly in the three waters, in half decent pipe renewals, half decent water supply infrastructure, with the same fervour and obsession they that reserve for their vanity projects and their fripperies. Their cycleways and slow roads, their non-essential off-piste self-glorification spend ups.