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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti

Water is a taonga – we need to use it wisely. This page outlines ways to save water.

Our community relies on water from our rivers. When it’s dry for a long time, the water supply network comes under stress. Streams and creeks dry up, groundwater levels fall, pipeline breakages increase, and back-up pumping systems and treatment plants work much harder. At the same time, water demand increases. When the demand for water is higher than the available supplies, we need to bring in water restrictions.

Saving water can:

  • help reduce the need for compulsory water restrictions in dry weather
  • help protect the health of our rivers and the plants and animals in them
  • reduce effects on connected groundwater reserves, wetlands and lakes
  • reduce the need for new water sources and infrastructure
  • reduce energy use and the cost of water treatment and distribution
  • improve our preparation and planning for any impact climate change might have on water availability.

What you can do to conserve water

We use between 180 and 250 litres of water per person each day, not including garden watering. Here are some simple things you can do in your home and garden to reduce your water use.


  • Water your garden by hand in the early morning or late evening. Using a trigger hose or watering can is best. A garden sprinkler uses over 1000 litres of water per hour.
  • Soak the garden every few days. Light watering makes plants shallow-rooted and most of the water is lost through evaporation.
  • Adjust your lawn mower to cut at 40-50mm. Taller grass holds soil moisture better.
  • Leave lawn clippings on your grass and mulch around plants to retain moisture. This also helps keep the weeds at bay!
  • Consider harvesting rainwater or saving grey water from your bath and laundry for garden use.
  • Check your sprinkler and hose for leaks.
  • Wash your car from a bucket rather than hosing. Washing your car with running water can use up to 400 litres.


  • Have a shorter shower or cut down the amount of water for your bath. Each minute in the shower uses about 14 litres of water and filling a bathtub takes about 300 litres.
  • Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Set your washing machine to the proper load size. Around 20% of indoor water use comes from doing laundry.
  • Keep an eye on your taps for leaks. A dripping tap uses 100 litres a day.
  • Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps retain nutrients.
  • Use a small bowl rather than a full sink or running water to wash vegetables.
  • Defrost food in the fridge rather than using running water.
  • Recycle old water from pet bowls, kettles, etc, to water plants.

Planning for the future

  • Choose plants that don’t need too much water.
  • Look for the AAA Water Conservation rating if you are buying new appliances.
  • Consider installing aerated tap mixers and a water-saving showerhead.
  • Consider installing a dual-flush toilet cistern or place a weight in the cistern to reduce capacity.

Our Water Conservation Management Plan

Our Water Conservation and Management Plan sets out ways the DCC and residents can manage water supply and demand more effectively and sustainably. The plan considers population growth, economic development and environmental concerns. A copy is available in the related information section.

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