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Saving water

We can all do our part to reduce our water consumption around the home.

Make every day a conservation day 

Rainfall in the Bay of Plenty is down 30% this year* and river flow levels are low, so every drop of water will count this summer. Water is a precious resource - to all play our part, let's make every day a water conservation day.

To set you up for the hot, dry season and the likelihood of water restrictions, here are some tips that may help.

*Compared to average annual rainfall for the Bay of Plenty.

Planning for the summer months

  • Cover your plant beds with mulch and spread around the base of trees. This is a cost effective way to prevent up to 75% of evaporation, limit water run off and keep soil cool.
  • Dig a small trench around trees to help retain water.
  • Give your garden a good soak every few days rather than a drink every night. This will train the roots of your plants to grow deeper, which helps protect them from suffering in dry hot weather. It also prevents weed growth, disease and fungus.
  • Water during the cooler parts of the day, between 5am and 8am and 7pm and 10pm to prevent evaporation.
  • Water the highest part of your garden first – excess water will run to the lower lying areas.

Read more about council's concerns for water this summer

Frequently asked questions

This is the first year we are seeing these changes to river flow. We are working with Bay of Plenty Regional Council, under whose jurisdiction these streams fall, to assess the situation. It’s not hard to imagine the persistent dry weather is a contributing factor. Metservice has indicated it’s been the third driest September in 77 years. Bay of Plenty Regional Council are closely monitoring the situation. Find out more on their website.

Should water use continue to rise and the river flow stays the same (or deteriorates) the scenario for Tauranga’s water use would evolve like this:

  • Initially, a sprinkler ban would be implemented. Depending on outdoor water use, this could happen soon.
  • 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 limitation 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. This is new territory for Tauranga City Council and we are working through what this mechanism would look like.

Restrictions are implemented in three incremental levels. Should outdoor water use continue to put too much pressure on the drinking water supply, a next level can be triggered to help prioritise water for drinking, cooking and hygiene.  

  • Level 1 - sprinkler ban. This means no sprinklers and irrigation systems are allowed. People can use a handheld hose to water gardens between the hours of 5-8am and 7-10pm.  
  • Level 2 - hose ban. No sprinklers, irrigation systems and hoses are allowed, watering of gardens by bucket or watering cans only between the hours of 5-8am and 7-10pm.
  • Level 3 - total outdoor water use ban. No watering of gardens allowed to ensure we have enough water available for households.

Water restrictions apply to the City Water Supply. Recycled water, bore water and water used for testing fire systems, firefighting and related activities are exempt from water restrictions. Water from rainwater tanks is also exempt as long as it is not topped up from the city’s water supply.

More tips to save water


  • 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.

What alternatives do you have to water your garden?

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 discounts 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. 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.
  • 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.

Last Reviewed: 26/11/2020


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