Water: We're in luck

 I was in the shower yesterday when my wife came into the bathroom and remarked that I was standing beneath more of a dribble than a shower. Actually it was a bit low, but we are on town water supply and so generally we do make an effort not to waste water.

At our last house, out in the country, we weren't nearly as careful. We took water out of the ground via the bore hole and put it, almost immediately, back into the ground about thirty metres away. Water use was not so much of an issue, the bore hole never ran dry, there was no apparent water shortage in our area, and showers were longer. One day I interrupted my wife, who had been in the shower for a while, to tell her we had received a call from the council who were trying to track down the cause of a sudden and worrying drop in the water level at Karapiro. Of course I was told all about it. 

According to various estimates the average New Zealand family uses about 250 litres of water per person per day. For the average family of four that makes 1,000 litres per day or one cubic metre.

About 15 years ago I had a mad idea to form a lake at our property at the time. I did speak to the Waikato Regional Council about this and told them that by my calculations I would need to take 400 cubic metres per day to make it work. Enough for 400 families. This would enable the entire lake to be refreshed about every three weeks. To my surprise the response from the council was provided the required bore hole was 80 metres deep they would be OK with it. They told me only 4% of the available groundwater in the Waikato was used and so there was no shortage. Today, according to the Waipa District Council website less than 10% of the available groundwater is allocated for use. I don't know how much of that is actually used. The lake never made it off the drawing board.

As with most things in this area we don't really go without, we have occasional water restrictions such as only being able to water the garden with a hand held hose or every other day, but it's not exactly onerous. Auckland has more of an issue, in fact the Auckland Council has recently applied to the Environmental Protection Authority to increase their take from the  Waikato River to 300 million litres per day (roughly 15 minutes worth of the river's daily flow).

In other parts of the world water shortages are altogether more serious and it has been predicted that in the foreseeable future, wars will be fought over it. 

Well it's been a couple of minutes and I should get out of the shower, but I've had long enough to reflect, once again, on how lucky we in New Zealand, and particularly Cambridge, are.

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