Chris and Juanita Donnelly with their 7-year-old daughter Levani soaking their plants in water saved from their laundry. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Residents take action to save water


After the driest January and February on record, Nelsonians are coming up with inventive ways to conserve water.

Just 14mm of water was recorded at Nelson Airport since the beginning of the year pushing Nelson to stage 3 water rationing, meaning households can only use water for general household consumption with a total ban on hosing and sprinklers.

In Tasman, water rationing is at stage 4, meaning households should be saving 25 per cent of water and businesses up to 40 per cent.

Metservice meteorologist Tui McInnes says that the dry spell will continue this week, but a glimmer of hope exists in the form of a front moving onto the country over the weekend.

“The front could get more active so we could see some rain but it’s hard to say where or how much, we won’t really know till later in the week, but it could be the case that it misses Nelson altogether.”

Builder Chris Donnelly says after a visit to the Maitai Dam in early February, his family decided to start conserving water where they could, and he’s amazed at the results.

“We saw the dam at the beginning of February and the catcher by the spillway was still floating, now seeing the photos of what it looks like, I can’t believe how fast the water’s disappearing.”

Chris, his wife Juanita and their two children are re-using more than 300 litres a week by collecting water from the bathroom and laundry using a simple system of a milk bottle and buckets.

“We’re collecting the water from the laundry and the shower into a bucket and we have turned the tap off into the toilet and fill the system by hand using that water.”

He says the best way they’ve found to collect water from the shower over bath is to put the plug in and use a milk bottle with the end cut off to scoop the water out afterwards.

Chris and his family are in the process of building a new home and have all of their new trees in their current backyard which desperately need watering and he says because of their conservation efforts they are “probably better watered now than they were before.”

He also says a simple task such as washing your face can be a great opportunity to save water.

“It’s quite interesting how much water actually goes down the drain when you start collecting it like that. I can fill three milk bottles (2L) just waiting for the water to warm up.”

His tips for others wanting to conserve water is to go and get a flexi bucket for the laundry.

“They’re really good because they can flex into the space in the tub. One wash fills the bucket and it pretty much overflows.”

He does have a warning though: “make sure you take the hose out before the spin cycle starts because it will suck the dirty water back into the machine.”

Looking for ways to save water? Visit the Our Nelson button on the Nelson App.