Dry weather prompts push for water limits in Tasman

Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne said council staff need to be able to act if residents ignore water restrictions. - Photo: RNZ / Tracey Neale

The Tasman District is to meet under urgency as drought conditions loom.

Water cuts of 50 percent will be in place from Monday for consent holders on the Waimea Plains, and will soon expand across the district as water flows run very low.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said at the moment staff did not have the authority to enforce a water use bylaw that applied to householders.

Right now, it was against the rules in some areas to water gardens with a hose, but staff did not have the power to stop it.

Mr Kempthorne said this would be rectified at a special meeting.

"I requisitioned it as what we're looking at delivering is delegations to staff to give enforcement powers for the urban water bylaw that we have, because at the moment the staff don't have that authority to enforce the bylaw."

Mr Kempthorne said the district was on the verge of a significant water shortage, and for everyone in the community to be treated fairly when rationing came in, staff needed the ability to take action if people were not respecting the restrictions in place.

He said if people were seen hosing their gardens or lawns during a ban, or if there were green lawns that were obviously being watered, or any signs of excessive water use, then staff could step in.

He said it did not mean council staff would be driving around checking, but would rely on the usual means of acting on phone calls from residents and following up.

"It's not that the council would smack people with a fine, but to talk with homeowners to let them know there's a water shortage," Mr Kempthorne said.

"If people refuse to follow suit and do what's reasonable, then it gives staff the power to enforce."

He acknowledged some homeowners could have their own water tanks.

The Tasman council has recently signed off on a project to build a $105 million dam south of Richmond, ending almost two decades of planning and increased public opposition over growing costs.

Mr Kempthorne said once the dam was built, it would take exceptional circumstances to impose rationing on the Waimea Plains.

"There will be enough water for the irrigators, for the urban supply for Brightwater, Hope, Richmond and Māpua but we don't have it at the moment."

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