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Wellington Region

Water Quantity

The rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater systems of the Wellington region support a wide range of ecological, recreational, aesthetic and cultural values. The same resources also provide for the region's consumptive needs such as drinking water, irrigation and industrial use. Careful management of water quantity is required to ensure there is sufficient to go around.

Approximately 470 million cubic metres of water is allocated via 679 resource consents in the Wellington region. About two thirds of this is from surface water sources although there are many more individual groundwater consents than surface water consents. 50 percent of all allocated water is for town supply while a further 26 percent is allocated for irrigation.

Allocation (i.e. consented abstraction) more than doubled in the Wellington region between 1990 and 2010, primarily due to increases in irrigation demand in the Wairarapa.  There is now very little run-of-river water available as most of the major rivers and streams in the region are fully allocated.   The most productive groundwater aquifers are also highly allocated.   

Recent resource investigations in the region have improved our understanding of the linkage between groundwater  and surface water.  Management policies have been refined to take this linkage into account and ensure that the impacts of groundwater abstraction on rivers, streams, springs, lakes and wetlands are addressed when setting allocation limits.  Avoiding salt water intrusion at the coast as a result of groundwater drawdown is another key part of management policies.

Large scale damming and diversion of water for hydropower generation does not occur in the Wellington region. However, options for large scale water storage reservoirs to increase security of supply for irrigators are under consideration.

Data on actual use of water (as opposed to maximum consented use) is improving all the time as water meters become mandatory. Data on water use improves policies governing the allocation of water can be refined.


Regional Summary
Water quantity data in this region

Regional councils collect information about how much water is available and manage resource consents for those wishing to take water from rivers or groundwater supplies. Use the buttons below to view regional information on: how much water is available, where it comes from and how its used.


Rainfall {{waterAvailable.rainfall}} Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}} Groundwater available: {{waterSource.groundwater}}
{{waterSource.groundwaterPercentAvailable}}% of total available
Surface Water available: {{waterSource.surfacewater}}
{{waterSource.surfacewaterPercentAvailable}}% of total available
Town supply
  • How much water is there in this region?

    Rainfall and runoff in this region

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    Rainfall and runoff

    Relative Volume Source Volume
    Rainfall total:
    {{waterAvailable.rainfall }}
    rainfall Rainfall Total {{waterAvailable.rainfall}}
    Runoff total:
    {{waterAvailable.runoff }}
    runoff Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}}

    The table above shows the average amount of rainfall the region receives each year and how much of that flows out to sea. These are approximate figures only.

    Total run-off to sea has been estimated by aggregating mean flow statistics from the River Environment Classification (developed by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research). 

  • Water consents: where does water come from?

    The split between surface water and groundwater

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    Consented water by source

    Relative volumes
    Amount available to consent Surface water:
    available to consent
    available to consent
    Volume consented Surface water:
    volume consented
    volume consented
    Source Amount available to consent Volume consented Consented as a percentage of available
    surface water ground water {{item.source}} {{item.amountAvailable}} {{item.volumeConsented}} {{item.percentageConsented}}
    {{}} {{}} {{}} {{}}

    The table above shows how much water is available to use compared with the amount that is actually consented for use. It also shows how much of this water is surface water and how much is groundwater.

    Values for water availability have not yet been provided. Greater Wellington Regional Council is in the process (as at June 2015) of notifying a new Regional Plan that will contain proposed allocation limits.  When this Plan is notified the proposed limits will be used to update the empty fields.

  • Water consents: How is water used?

    Consents by use in this region

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    Annual consented water use by type

    Overall annual volume for {{waterAvailable.year}}
    Relative breakdown
    Activity Percentage of total consented Total volume Number of consents
    {{item.displayText}} {{item.displayText}} - - No data available {{item.breakdownPercentage}}% {{item.totalVolume}} {{item.numberOfConsents}}
    Total {{}}% {{}} {{}}

    The above table shows the proportion of water consented for irrigation, industrial, stock, town supply and other. It excludes hydro electricity. In this region/management zone {{hydroUsage.totalVolume}}/year is consented for hydro-electricity and makes up {{hydroUsage.percentageConsented}}% of the total water volume consented for this region/management zone

Surface Water Zones
Surface Water zones in the Wellington Region

Select the water management zone you'd like to see information on by clicking the buttons below or navigate using the map.

Groundwater Zones
Groundwater management zones in the Wellington Region

Select the groundwater management zone you'd like to see information on by clicking the buttons below or navigate using the map.