Ever lost your tank water? 45% of people have!

Rainwater storage tanks flying out the door in Wellington

Eva Neely with her daughter Mara, 3. The family has a 200-litre rainwater tank and "Grab and Go" bag for emergencies.
ROBERT KITCHIN/ FAIRFAX NZ

Eva Neely with her daughter Mara, 3. The family has a 200-litre rainwater tank and "Grab and Go" bag for emergencies.

Wellingtonians have snapped up about 1000 rainwater tanks in the past month, as families wise up on emergency water supplies.

More than 7500 residents have now invested in the 200-litre tanks, after a Stuff report last month that Wellington could be cut off from the water network for three months if a major earthquake struck.

Wellington Water has previously warned that a high-intensity quake on the Wellington Fault would sever the mains in at least five places, cutting water to Upper Hutt, Wellington and Porirua.

"Sooner or later one of these shakes is going to be a pretty disruptive one, and the little things we do now pay dividends down stream," Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (Wremo) community resilience manager Dan Neely said.

The council has estimated each person needs access to at least three litres of drinking water a day. That doesn't include water for pets, cooking and washing.

"I think Wellingtonians recognise their risk ... and are quite good at taking action," Neely said.

The council admits the city's emergency water supply is "a critical issue". It is half-way through a project to install 50 emergency water tanks with between 10,000L and 25,000L capacity around the region.

Rainwater tanks have been available from the Wellington City Council and Wremo since July 2013 for $105.

Neely said Wremo and the council had made sure the tanks were easy to transport and install, and available at the lowest possible cost. From a retailer, the same package would cost about $260.

Neely put the recent surge in popularity down to added media coverage, and mailers about the tanks that were sent out with rates information.

Wremo now has about 150 tanks on back order, and supplier The Tank Guy is producing them "as fast as it can".

Neely's own family, who live on Wellington's steep south coast, has invested in a tank and already used it several times when maintenance had been done in their street.

"We have been off for a day and it's been great. Not having water is hugely stressful."

Neely witnessed the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in the late 1990s, and the effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on Sri Lanka. 

Both displaced 1.5m people and, in some parts, cut off entire water supplies.

"I've seen it firsthand – for communities [in Wellington] that would have to lug water uphill to their homes, that would be a real challenge for a lot of people."

For more information on rainwater tanks go to getprepared.org.nz

 - Stuff