Fresh water is precious
We can all do our part to conserve it
Our region has more than 100 lakes, over 20 rivers and about 1,400 streams. We are also blessed with many underground aquifers. Together, they provide fresh water for agriculture, industry, power generation and, of course, water for use at home.
It’s easy to take our fresh water for granted, but in the drier summer and autumn months we need to be particularly careful to conserve it.
If too much water is taken from rivers and streams:
- Water levels and flow patterns – like riffles and pools – will change, altering the condition for life there. In extreme conditions, small watercourses could run dry.
- The temperature of water is likely to rise and adversely affect fish, plants and other aquatic life. Higher temperatures also limit the use of water for industrial cooling.
- There may be a higher concentration of pollutants like silt and nutrients, causing algae to grow.
These changes may affect the cultural value of the water body as a food source and for its own life essence. Recreational uses, like fly fishing and kayaking, may also be at risk.
If too much is drawn from groundwater:
- The flow to springs, streams and rivers can be reduced.
- Neighbouring wells can be affected.
- Levels can decline over the long term, reducing the availability of water for future generations.
For coastal aquifers, over-extracting from them increases the risk of saltwater being drawn into the fresh water reserves. This can make them permanently unsuitable for drinking and many other uses.
There are lots of simple things we can do around home to conserve water.
- In the bathroom
- In the kitchen
- in the laundry
- Garden watering
- Garden watering for lawns
- Healthy gardens
Looking out on large water volumes like Lake Taupo or the flowing Waikato River, it’s easy to wonder why we need to conserve water. Neither of them are about to go dry, that’s for sure. What’s important is the overall volume of water – to maintain the quality of it.
While municipal water returned to the river is treated to a high standard, water from diffuse sources remains a problem. This includes run-off in urban areas (oil on roads, for example) and from rural and forestry land. Maintaining high water levels and volumes helps dilute the contaminant load entering the water bodies and assists in maintaining water quality.
So, small efforts around home – and at work – to conserve water all add up. If we all do our part, it makes a difference.