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Water warning for Wellingtonians

Wellingtonians should plan for household storage of at least 140 litres of drinking water per person as a preventative measure against future earthquakes.

Colin Crampton, chief executive of Wellington Water which manages drinking, storm and waste water in the region, says that residents should be prepared to rely on water stored at home for at least the first seven days after an earthquake.

“Every household needs to store at least 20 litres a person a day, for seven days.”

The cost and basic installation of a 200 litre water tank starts at around $200.

Water distribution in the region could be affected for much longer than a week.

More than 70 per cent of the underground drinking water network is likely to fail in an earthquake of 7.5 or stronger, with the pipes that supply water to homes in the region likely to stop working for as long as 100 days after an earthquake.

The past 12 months has seen Wellington’s councils working to establish an above-ground emergency network using sources strategically located across metropolitan Wellington that tap water from rivers and streams, new bores, as well as desalination.

A model for the distribution of water across the four city council areas is now being set up, with plans for community water stations to start operating after day seven of a major disaster.

The new above ground network will be separate from the network of around 2,000 kilometres of buried pipes, with community water stations strategically located in parks, schools, and roadsides across emergency response ‘islands’.

“The emergency network focuses on providing communities with a self-sufficient, local supply of water,” says Wellington Water Emergency Management Team Leader Erin Ganley.

“Disruption to major roads and landslides is likely to fragment Wellington into distinct ‘islands’. The set-up of the network is based on these areas, and will prevent the need for travel across landslips or other potential hazards to collect water.”

Each of the 22 community water stations across the greater Wellington region are capable of supplying 4,000 to 11,000 people every day until damaged pipes can be repaired.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says communities will need to support each other within the ‘island’ areas.

“We’re a city of people who look out for each other, and that shone through in the days following the Kaikōura earthquake. The time may come that we have to face reality of being a city without water. When that day comes I have every confidence that our councils and our communities will work together and keep water flowing from these new above ground water stations.”

To find out more about community emergency hubs and getting your household prepared, check out getprepared.nz/hubs

More information about Wellington Water at their website: wellingtonwater.co.nz