Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Water crisis in Northland, New Zealand

Northland water crisis: Residents queue for laundromat and stockpile bottled water

Long-lines are forming at Mangawhai's only laundromat and tensions are running high as the town's water crisis continues. Photo / Supplied

17 January, 2016

Long-lines are forming at Mangawhai's only laundromat and bottles of water are flying out the door of its two general stores as desperate residents try to secure supplies.

Tensions are starting to run high in Northland as people continue to face long waits for deliveries of tank water and the cartage firms remain under the pump as the dry weather continues.

Molesworth Four Square owner Kirk Mander said demand for 15-litre containers of water had increased in the past two weeks. He had ordered extra shipments to meet strong demand.

Sales for every other item remained flat, but water had "shot up".

The shortage was all customers were talking about, he said.

"I think people are getting frustrated with no communication about when they are getting water," Mander said.

Mander said his own family had been out of water for about a week and almost no one in the town was unaffected by it.

Mangawhai Village Four Square store manager Prince, who only wanted to be referred to as Prince, had ordered in an extra pallet for 10-litre bottled water and had reduced the price from $8.99 to $6.99 to make it more affordable for people.

"It's the summer. Water is just flying out the door.

"Heaps of people just want water, not really food."

The Four Square also manages the laundromat and increased opening hours and seen almost five times as many people topping up smart cards for the washing machines than usual.

Laundromat Mangawhai owner John Fredrickson said there were constant queues of up to three people for each of the store's five washing machines and the lines started from when the doors opened at 8am. The wait was between 30 minutes to 2 hours for a machine.

The laundromat drew from its own bore, but he was still stumped why with Mangawhai's growing population Kaipara District Council did not have one available in the town for tankers.

Fredrickson owns a holiday home in the town and had been advised by the property manager that they would have to cancel a booking because the tank was low and the average wait for water was up to two weeks.

He said cancelling bookings had left him about $4000 out of pocket.

Bach Stay Mangawhai owner Matt Adams, who manages 70 properties in Mangawhai, said they had only had to cancel one booking so far but were monitoring tank levels and educating guests about water conservation.

He said in past years the local suppliers would be able to deliver water within 24 hours, but even before Christmas there had been a four-to-five-day wait.

"It's only just the beginning of the problem. We've got about 45 to 50 houses booked and rented at the moment and we can't guarantee there will be enough water in those tanks for the next two weeks. That will be entirely dependent on the people staying there at present and whether or not they are being careful or not."

Adams thought the problem was exasperated by a lot of panic buying, with people putting their names on the waiting list just in case.

Kaipara District Council said its Mangutoroto water scheme was near capacity, so was unable to offer a solution to Mangawhai carriers at this stage.

Kaipara District Council corporate services manager Peter Marshall said the only other options to supplement the private bores were the filling stations at Wellsford and Ruakaka, which was a 90 minute turn-around for drivers.

"We're looking at what other options we can provide but we haven't got any specific ideas right now."

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