I’m watching with interest people’s reactions to recent water restrictions in Wellington. We’ve had a surprisingly warm, dry spring and a ferociously hot summer (so far!) and the annual hose pipe ban was instigated very early in the season. What interests me is where people seem to be laying most of the blame. Not on the abnormally high temperatures, lack of spring rain and other extreme weather events if the last year. Nor at their own water behaviours. But rather at the feet of the council, and greater Wellington water management strategies.

I find the blame game a little worrying. It seems folks are very quick to dismiss their own responsibilities for water management in favour of finger pointing. Truth is, water is a resource we have taken for granted and although council are responsible for getting it to our houses, we are responsible for the way we use it.

And we should think carefully about how we can use it more considerately. We seem to forget our privilege of being able to turn on a tap at will and expect clean, fresh water to flow from the faucet, while we live on these shaky isles, in cities balanced between tectonic plates. Occasional articles like this pop up reminding us of how fragile our water supply could be in the event of a big quake. Many Wellingtonians could face up to 20 days without water  – but I wonder if it might be longer if reservoirs were as low as they are now when it hits.

This makes it imperative that we all take steps to ensure that we have enough emergency supplies of water. I am guilty of having owned a water tank for several months before getting around to filling it and hooking it up to down pipes. Now I am considering getting another one.

I think it would take a force majeure event to make most people change their water behaviours. Or perhaps, more preferably, a local policy change that saw domestic water charged by use, they way businesses currently are. That is the only way that I can see people taking responsibility for the water they use.

For tips of conserving water and using it wisely in the urban permaculture garden, read this post.


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