Getting ready for the big dry

Its been a wet start to Spring this year, which our local weather expert John Mathieson says has brought our reserves back up after the deficit recorded over summer.

In fact, rainfall levels for Nelson for the past three years have been above average and we are on track to measure the same in 2019. If this is the case, then why do we have restrictions and why do we need to conserve water?

Climate change experts tell us that with a warmer climate we can expect changes to our current weather patterns. The Ministry for the Environment’s website has information about how this change will play out in New Zealand. We can expect heavier, more intense rainfall that falls less frequently. This means longer dry spells, which was certainly our experience over the last summer in Nelson.

As a community we need to build our resilience to cope with this change and one of the ways to do this is to take control of your own water supply. Harvesting water is essentially the process of catching and storing rain for use by your household or business. This can save you money and can reduce the pressure on our natural water resources, leaving them for future generations to enjoy. It also gives you access to an emergency water supply when the need arises.

With the right system in place, rainwater could meet around 65% of your household needs. You can start small by installing a simple system to divert some of the rain from your gutters to water your fruit and vegetable garden. Tamara Cartwright who recently installed a large 20,000L water tank said “It seems ridiculous to use mains water on the garden.” This way she is assured her native garden will thrive. Tamara also said “the water tank provides security for us and our neighbours should we need it in the future”.

The Nelson City Council has great online resources that can help you determine your needs for harvesting water and the infrastructure required. If you are planning on installing a large enough system to supply your water for bathing and drinking, be aware that you do require building consent. A brochure and short how-to video can be found on

In the meantime, it’s always good to be mindful of your water consumption and respect our natural resources.

Jess Ettridge