Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has sent formal requests for further information from Wellington mayor Tory Whanau and Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy this evening over the capital’s water leakage and shortage issues.

Wellington has been hit hard with leakage and supply issues this summer, and with demand peaking at 195 million litres on January 9. Much of the Wellington region was asked to conserve water from Wednesday as the region moves to level two water restrictions.

Brown warned water restrictions in Wellington may “escalate as summer continues”.

Water regulator Taumata Arowai is “actively preparing to exercise its powers in the event that a water emergency occurs”, he said.

The capital’s ageing pipes mean almost half of the water is lost through leaks — a problem that requires not only time, but a lot of money to fix. More than 3000 leaks flow across the wider region, some of them pointed out by signs or protests from frustrated locals.

Wellington Water, the organisation responsible for managing the water network, said it was trying to resolve the issue through funding from the region’s councils.

It estimated it would need more than $1 billion every year over the next decade to upgrade water infrastructure.

Brown said he earlier wrote to Wellington Water Committee chairman Campbell Barry to ask what actions shareholder councils were taking to reduce the possible water shortage.

Sprinkler (file photo).

“This included asking how councils were actively considering how to fix leakage issues, increasing supply, and how the short-and medium-term activity will be funded.”

Brown said both Whanau and Guppy had “failed to respond” to Barry’s request by January 17, which was needed as part of Barry’s response to Brown.

“With the exception of Wellington City and Upper Hutt City, the other councils in the Wellington region were able to provide the requested information which summarised their work programmes and steps they had taken,” he said.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy.

Brown said he was “disappointed” that the mayors had failed to provide the necessary information.

“Therefore, I have now used my powers under the Local Government Act to formally request information that those councils are taking their obligations to residents and ratepayers seriously, and are implementing all mitigations necessary to avoid cuts or limits on water supplies.”