Businesses accused of not “pulling weight” in water conservation efforts


Raglan residents were told to not even flush their toilets in an effort to conserve water this week, but meanwhile it was business as usual for the cafes in the CBD.

Residents took to the Raglan Notice Board Facebook site to express their disgust at the double standard issued by Waikato District Council.

There was a big push by the council for residents to conserve water use after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Hanmer Springs in the South Island on early Monday morning affected the town’s water supply.

Residents were told to limit their water use to only necessary drinking: “Do not do washing, shower or flush the loo (only number twos).”

“Anyone else disgusted that all the restaurants and cafes continued to be open,” wrote Jessie Rushton.

“Personally if the situation is dire they should have been warned and closed as should any other business on mains raglan water (sic).

“How can we take this seriously if they are still using lots of water (I haven’t had a shower or washed clothing … I am really upset that this part of the community isn’t pulling their weight.”

“I am surprised that there wasn’t a mandatory shutdown of all business using excessive use of water,” wrote Abbie Morgan.

June Wadeson said: “Save water don’t shower we all do out bit except for cafes shops etc which makes it a little hard on the ones trying (sic).

Waikato District Council said it appreciated the efforts of residents in limiting their water use.

“We continue to stress that if water use is not kept to an absolute minimum it may run out as we are unable to keep up with even a normal demand for water,” Waikato District Council Local Controller Merv Balloch said on Tuesday.

He said the council had also asked local businesses to show restraint in water use.

The Shack owner Justin Thomson said trying to conserve water was “really, really, really hard”.

“You can’t. Basically it’s really hard – we need the dishwasher, it operates at really high temperatures.

“I can see the gripes. That’s pretty fair. My wife and I talked about not opening up for the three days but we can’t afford to, we have 24 staff to pay.”

He said he had had calls from members of the public telling him he was not allowed to open.

“I think people have been coming in to use the toilet,” he laughed.

Orca owner Corrina Wells said staff had made a big effort to conserve water and she had been filling up containers with water from her own supply at home to use at the cafe.

Raglan Community Board chairman Bob MacLeod said when the mountain shook early on Monday morning it stirred up the spring that supplied the town water.

“The pump turned off because the water wasn’t clear, and the pump wont pump murky water into the reservoir.”

Then, just as the water was clearing, another quake on Monday afternoon shook the spring up again.

Yesterday morning, the council was still trucking in water to top up the reservoirs. A tanker had been based at the fire station for those needing fresh drinking water.

Greenslade Rd properties were being supplied water by a tanker after a burst pipe overnight on Tusday.

Residents have been told to boil water for drinking.

The council said it would continue to top up the reservoir until the water treatment plant could be turned back on again – once water tests came back clear. This could be a minimum of three days, it said on Tuesday.

“We wont run out, we haven’t got the tourists here at the moment,” said Bob.

Raglan fire chief Kevin Holmes, who was woken by the earthquake shortly after midnight, said the volunteer brigade was on a tsunami red alert for the rest of the night.

“There was the potential that we would have to evacuate at any stage.”

Then, at 5.45am, he was informed by Civil Defence and WDC that there was no water for firefighting if it was needed. A water tanker was brought in from Ngaruawahia.

The earthquake rocked many Raglan residents out of their bed.

A number of residents in Te Mata also reported seeing the luminous phenomenon known as earthquake lights.

Damion Scarlett said he witnessed what looked like an “electrical explosion” over the hills towards Waingaro.


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