Water Conservation

We might have plenty of lakes and rivers around, but water conservation is still a big issue in our beautiful district.

In the bathroom In the kitchen In the garden

Saving water starts at home

Our freshwater supply is far from endless.  Over summer, demand for water soars and unfortunately in some communities, the demand can be so high that our infrastructure simply can’t keep up. 

To ensure we can provide sufficient water for public health and fire-fighting requirements, we often need to introduce water restrictions.  If we can all change our habits, we’ll reduce the chance of restrictions being required, and help to ensure we have the same access to water in the future as we have today.   

Everyone can do their bit to save water and every drop counts.   The easiest way to start is by fixing any water leaks you have at home.   Once your home is leak free, start thinking about some simple changes you can make to the way you use water. 

Here are some ideas:   

In the bathroom

  • If you brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, and leave the tap running, you could be wasting around 12 litres (or just over a bucket) of water a day. That’s over 4,300 litres per person, per year.

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  • Install a water efficient showerhead – using less hot water means you’ll also save on your energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You’ll also save lots of water.

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  • Every minute you cut from your shower time could save up to 20 litres a day. Use the half-flush option whenever possible. For older toilets put a filled bottle in the cistern (tank), it can save you a litre of water every flush. Check for toilet leaks by putting a few drops of food colouring into the cistern and waiting for 30 minutes. If you have a leaking toilet, you will see coloured water in the toilet bowl and need to contact a plumber. A slow, barely visible leak into your toilet bowl can waste more than 4,000 litres of water a year.

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In the kitchen and while cooking

  • Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge so you don't need to run the tap for a minute or so until the water runs cold.  This can save up to two litres of water per glass! 

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  • Ask questions about water efficiency when buying whiteware and only run full loads, which can save up to 3,700 litres a month.

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  • Modern dishwashers and detergents mean there's no need to pre-rinse.  Just give your dishes a scrape and pop them straight into the machine.   

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  • If you're washing dishes by hand, use the minimum amount of dishwashing detergent or buy a low suds one.  This will reduce the amount of rinse water required. 

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  • Fill a pot or bowl of water to wash vegetables rather than running the tap. 

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In the garden and maintaining your lawn

  • A dry garden looks great and requires little to no water.  We've identified a number of plants that do well in hot, dry conditions.

    Top 10  groundcovers 

    • Coprosma sp

    • Stachys

    • Epimedium

    • Pachysandra

    • Rosemary

    • Dianthus

    • Helianthemum

    • Erica

    • Hebe

    • Pimelia

    Top 10 Perennials - any with a grey leaf are generally dry tolerant

    • Lavender

    • Sedum

    • Rudbekia

    • Salvia

    • Gaura

    • Kniphofia

    • Nepeta

    • Artemesia

    • Euphorbia

    • Geranium

    Top 10 shrubs 

    • Cistus

    • Coprosma

    • Elaeagnus

    • Grevillea

    • Olearia

    • Mahonia

    • Nandina

    • Photinia

    • Rosemary

    • Brachyglottis

    Top 10 trees 

    • Sorbus - Rowan

    • Cordyline – Cabbage Tree

    • Kanuka

    • Eucalyptus

    • Olive

    • Oak

    • Birch

    • Sophora- Kowhai

    • Elm

    • Amelanchier Canadensis

    Grasses 

    • Poa cita – silver tussock

    • Carex – buchananii, comans, testacea

    • Anamanthele – wind grass gossamer grass

    • Helictotrichon sempervirens – Blue oat grass

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  • Top 5 tips for planting

    • Select the right plant for the site – see our list.

    • Tickle the roots carefully to loosen the root ball.

    • Soak the plant & the hole.

    • Add some organic matter when planting – compost.

    • Mulch – a minimum of 20-30mm of mulch is required, i.e. Bark chip, good compost and stones .

    Top 5 tips for irrigation

    • Water early morning or evening when the sun is off the plants. Automated sprinklers/drippers are effective watering systems. Set the timer to irrigate between 10.00pm and 6.00am.

    • Give plants a chance to dry out between watering.

    • Direct water to the root zone of the plant.

    • Minimise run off.

    • Soak don’t sprinkle.

    The Wakatipu Reforestation Trust has published a practical guide to planting in the Wakatipu Basin. The booklet can be downloaded for FREE, or donate $10 to receive a hard copy.  

    See  https://www.wrtqt.org.nz/history

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  • It can be difficult to maintain a lawn during the water months in the Queenstown Lakes District.  Here are some tips to help you conserve water but maintain your lawn.  

    General tips

    • Home lawns are usually the single largest user of water in the home. They tend to require considerable resource.

    • Consider Fescues when selecting a variety of grass suitable for your location, they will be more drought resistant and better able to cope with the peak temperatures we experience in the region while still offering a fantastic surface to walk on barefoot.

    • The correct amount of water to apply to a lawn is exactly what it requires! Too much and it will promote undesirable weeds and waste water. Too little causes poor turf health.

    • Try to keep lawn establishment to spring and autumn. This is the time of year when nature does all the hard work. When the weather is warmer, lawn establishment requires a greater frequency of watering (keeps you away from the bike and the boat).

    Irrigation

    • When establishing your lawn, initially you will need to water more often and less volume. As it establishes, the time between watering grows and the amount of water increases.

    • Infrequent, heavier watering encourages greater root development which results in a lawn that will be able to tolerate heat stress better and require less water to maintain.

    • No such thing as set and forget! Continually monitor how much water you are applying and if it is more than required. Watch for changes in the weather and capitalise on nature's best (rainfall can’t be beat).

    • Irrigation tends to be more efficient use of water than a hand hose.

    • If you see water running, that’s a sign that you are applying too much water!

    • Water your lawn in the early hours of the morning or late evening. This will reduce water loss via evaporation. Set your automated watering system to irrigate between 10.00pm and 6.00am.

    • Avoid heavy, fast watering. Nice and slow is the go!

    • A beautiful deep green lawn will be more susceptible to higher temperatures if water restrictions are necessary and implemented.

    • Aerate your lawn to allow the water to get where it is most effective, the root zone!

    Lawn maintenance

    • Cut your lawn a little higher during the warmer months. This is achieved by lifting your height setting a couple of notches to ensure the grass is not too short. This will reduce the demand for water increase the plants ability to withstand higher temperatures.

    • Cut more frequently and without a catcher. This allows the grass clippings to break down, allowing nutrients to be recycled as they return to the soil profile.

    • Cut your lawns in the evening or avoid the hotter parts of the day as cutting the plant naturally causes heat stress (like us!)

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  • Healthy gardens and lawns are more resilient in hot weather – here are some tips for making organic liquid fertilizer. 

    Did you know a huge percentage of organic fertilizers are made from kitchen waste?

    Homemade Fertilizers

    Make your own organic liquid fertilizer by infusing your components of choice in water for a few days. The soluble nutrients will drain into the water solution.

    Examples of DIY Organic Liquid Fertilizer are as follows:

    • Banana Peels

    Banana peels come with loads of potassium. Fertilizers that are rich in potassium are good for flowers and fruiting plants, squash plants and tomatoes - not appropriate for foliage plants such as spinach and lettuce.

    Put the banana peels into a mason jar and fill it with water, close the jar. Allow it to cure for three days and use it on your garden.

    • Eggshell Fertilizer

    Eggshells are rich in calcium and contain a small percentage of potassium. Crush the egg shells and put in a mason jar, fill with water. Cure for a week and use the water on your plants. It is ideal for tomatoes and houseplants. Calcium helps prevent blossom-end rot.

    • Vegetable Cooking Water

    After boiling your vegetables, don’t dispose of the water. Let it cool and then dilute it with more water. Good for indoor and outdoor plants. To avoid the bad smell, use it all at once.

    • Epsom Salt

    Epsom salts contain sulphur and magnesium. Add a tablespoon of Epsom salts to 4 litres of water. Spray on peppers, tomatoes, roses, and onions. Spray twice a month.

    • Compost Tea

    Place compost and water in a bucket. Rest the lid on top of the bucket. Let it cure for one to two days. Pour the water over into another bucket. Dilute at a ratio of 1:10. Use a general fertiliser.

    • Weed tea

    Place grass and unseeded weed clippings in a 20Litre container. Add enough water to cover the grass/weed mixture. Cover and let it cure for three days. Drain the liquid and dilute with water at a ratio of 1:10. Place the remaining components in the compost.

    • Droppings Tea

    Use chicken, rabbit, or sheep droppings, place in a bucket and add enough water to cover the droppings. Let it cure for two to three days and drain the water. Dilute at a ratio of 1:20.

    Both these teas are a source of nitrogen.

    Finally, ensure that the plants are sufficiently watered before using the organic liquid fertilizer. If the plants appear withered for lack of enough water, it is advisable to water them sufficiently first and wait for twenty-four hours before applying the fertilizer.

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