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Saving water

No water restrictions currently apply in Tauranga.

Water restrictions were lifted on June 28 2021, making this year’s restrictions the longest in Tauranga’s recent history.

Flow levels in the streams that supply our drinking water have now stabilised, but flow is still lower than normal. Should this winter be any drier than usual, we will start next spring on the back foot making early water restrictions likely.

This is why we ask you to continue to use water wisely. Water is a finite resource, of which low stream levels are a stark reminder. Changing our attitude and habits around using water - making every drop count, will help ease the need for future water restrictions.

What does daily water use look like in Tauranga?

Tauranga uses an average of 42 million litres of water per day and in summer this can rise to 57 million litres per day. We have over 1200km of pipes to carry the water, 18 reservoirs and tanks to hold our supply and over 55,000 water meters to measure how much we use.

Tauranga Daily Water Use

Water use in this graph is reflected as a ‘rolling’ measure. This means daily numbers are expressed as a rolling average over 7 days – smoothing incidental peaks and highlighting trends instead of isolated extremes. This graph is updated weekly on a Tuesday. 

Tauranga water usage

Additional note to explain water use:

  • Water use in the graph is measured in m3 (cubic metres)
  • 1 cubic metre equals 1000 litres
  •  50,000 cubic metres equals 50 million litres. 

How can you help save water?

Tips to save water

  • Use mulch to keep soil moist.
  • Only water your garden when absolutely necessary and during the cooler times of the day – early morning or late evening.
  • Collect water from your shower for watering your garden.
  • Let your lawn grow longer; shade will protect roots and moisture.

More tips for conserving water

Common water questions about our water supply?

Our water comes from two spring feed streams– the Tautau and Waiorohi.

Stream levels have remained a concern for our water supply as well as the need to maintain stream health. While days have been cooler and more rain has fallen, we did not want to risk putting pressure on our source streams with people returning to using sprinklers on more sunny days.

Stream flows in the Tautau and Waiorohi are currently a lot lower than previous years reflecting the knock-on effect of three unusually dry summers for the Bay of Plenty. This period of prolonged drought has had a long-term impact on soil moisture and stream levels. We are working with Bay of Plenty Regional Council, under who’s jurisdiction these streams fall, to continually monitor the situation. To find out more visit the Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Should the river flow deteriorate we would be required to implement water restrictions. The scenario for Tauranga’s water use/restrictions would evolve like this:

  • Initially, a sprinkler/irrigation ban would be implemented
  • Next would be a hose ban, depending on the change in water use and the situation around the river flow
  • The last, most extreme measure would be a full ban on outdoor water use.

From previously being triggered by water use, based on a limit to water treatment capacity – we now need to consider flow levels from our source rivers, and consent limitations to what we are allowed to take from rivers.

While we are happy for homeowners to install rainwater tanks, they often run dry during the hot summer months when people are using the most water. So from a city-wide, water planning point of view, they are not helpful enough to make them compulsory.

First of all, the construction of a new treatment plant is underway, the Waiari Water Supply Scheme is due to be completed late 2022. This will help meet the future needs of Tauranga and alleviate some of the pressure on water supply in summer.

We are also working on a programme of works that will supplement supply more immediately. Some examples of works under this programme are investigating alternative source water options and optimising the existing water supply systems.

Considerations for next summer

The installation of bores, rainwater tanks and the reuse of greywater are all options that you can consider in reducing the use of drinking water for outdoor garden use.

If you install a bore on your property, we recommend that you let us know that you have a private bore so we can send you out a sign that you can attach to your front fence. This will let people know you are using bore water for your garden should they wonder.

Visit the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website for more information

Rainwater is a great alternative and free resource. By collecting and using rainwater when possible, demand on council’s water supply is reduced and the cost of your water bill goes down.

You can use rainwater for:

  • watering your garden
  • washing your car
  • supplying your washing machine and toilet
  • topping up spas and swimming pools.

Where a public water supply is available, rainwater is generally not advised for drinking-water connections such as in kitchens and bathrooms.

Tauranga City Council does not provide any subsidy to install of water tanks or barrels.

If you want to install a rainwater tank you need to decide whether you want to collect rainwater for outdoor use only, or to plumb it to the house to use as non-drinking water supplying laundry and toilets. This will determine the size of your tank.

  • For outdoor use, you may only need a barrel or a small tank, which is easy to install. You can learn how to do it from workshops organised by environment trusts. Simple barrels start at 200 litres.
  • For indoor use, you will need a bigger tank. Think ahead about the plumbing, backflow prevention and applying for consents. This is more effort than for a barrel, but your reward will be in higher water savings. Most domestic-use tanks are 3000 to 5000 litres.

If you’re aiming for self-sufficiency, your tank should be at least 20,000 to 25,000 litres.

Using rainwater brochure (1.2mb pdf)

Greywater is the wastewater from the bath, the shower, the bathroom/kitchen sink and the washing machine. Reusing greywater can significantly reduce the amount of fresh water you use.

You can collect greywater in a bucket while doing everyday tasks around the home.

  • Warm-up water: Put a container under the faucet to collect cold water while you wait for water to heat up.
  • Kitchen sinks: Place a pan in the sink and rinse vegetables and wash dishes in the pan.
  • The stovetop: if you steam or boil vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Instead, let it cool before you use it in the garden.
  • Rinsing out wine and other bottles: If you rinse bottles before placing them in the recycle bin, pour the rinse water onto thirsty plants.
  • Bathroom sinks and bathtubs: Scoop water from daily use into buckets.
  • Showers: Place a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up and while you shower.

If you would like to plumb in a greywater system this requires a building consent. These systems are still rare in New Zealand, and you should expect questions on the safety of your project

Can I use Grey Water on my garden?

Yes, you can. Do not use grey water on your vegetable garden though.

Further tips


  • Raise the blades on your lawn mower a notch. Leaving 25-30mm of leaf provides shade to the roots and soil, slowing water loss and protecting your lawn from sunburn.
  • If your lawn does dry out, most grasses including Tauranga’s common Kikuyu grass will grow back again.
  • Dig the soil – well-turned, aerated soil will absorb water easily. 

When landscaping a new garden

Should you be planning to landscape, sow new grass or put in a new lawn, we recommend you delay until after the hot and dry months. Once water restrictions start, you may not be able to water new grass as often as it needs.


  • Fix any leaking taps, pipes or cisterns.
  • Put a jug of water in your fridge for instant cold water.
  • Make sure the dishwasher is full before you use it.
  • Scrape dirty dishes rather than rinsing. Modern dishwashers can take it!
  • Put the plug into the sink to wash dishes or scrub vegetables, don’t leave the water running.


  • Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • Take shorter showers. A quick shower uses less than quarter of the water used in a bath.
  • Collect water from your shower for watering your garden.
  • Use the short toilet flush when you can, that uses about half the water of a full flush.


  • Install covers on pools and spas to reduce water evaporation.
  • Use a bucket to wash your car rather than a hose.
  • Wash your car on the grass.
  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clean paths.

Last Reviewed: 21/09/2021

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