An above-ground emergency water network will supply Wellington communities from day eight after a major earthquake. 

Wellington is a great place to live, work and play. But it can be a little wild! 

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Wellington's water supply network is vulnerable. Some suburbs could be without water for more than 100 days after an earthquake of 7.5 or stronger. 

Our water network is made up of more than 2,000 kilometres of buried pipes – and around 1,400 kilometres are considered vulnerable. Around 30 per cent of our 149 water reservoirs are also considered vulnerable.

The emergency water supply network will supply the more than 400,000 people across Wellington who may need to survive without a water network.

Restoration times


Media statement 25 June 2018: Keeping water flowing when an earthquake stops the taps

Media statement 16 March 2018: Hunt for emergency water sources update

Media statement 27 June 2017: Budget 2017: $6m for Wellington regional emergency water supplies

Media coverage 

One News: Wellington preparing for disaster by drilling into Earth’s surface in search of water

Capital complacency: Wellington residents still aren't ready for the big one, a year after the November 14 earthquake

Capital gets into gear as it recovers from the quake

Government sets aside $6m in budget to help build water resilience in Wellington

The science of a water aquifer

'Urgent' freshwater search under way in Wellington

Finding emergency water supplies for Wellington and Porirua

Where are the water stations?

Community water stations are strategically located at 21 sites across urban Wellington.  An additional water station can be deployed to areas of highest need after the earthquake, and will be used for training. We worked closely with Wellington's councils, community groups, and residents to confirm the design and location for each water station.  Decisions on the design and location of each new water station were based on availability of water, site accessibility, and landowner preference.   Read more

What is a Community Water Station?

Community Water Stations are strategically located across urban Wellington. At some sites we drilled new wells to source water, and at other sites water will be taken from streams. After an emergency event the water stations will be used to source water, treat water and distribute water to our communities.  

In reality, places like Upper Hutt will possibly have tap water restored long before parts of Wellington City.   Read more

How the emergency water network will operate

New alternative water supplies are ready to start supplying communities from day eight after a major earthquake.  

In some parts of Wellington it isn't possible to provide a water supply from streams or new wells. In these communities the emergency water network will be supported by desalination systems to keep water flowing.  

We've established the water stations across metropolitan Wellington. Hundreds of water collection points will be regularly supplied from water stations and existing reservoirs.   Read more

Finding water sources

Field measurements and investigations have identified the most reliable and safe water sources.  

Finding groundwater sources is not easy. You need:

a large ‘catchment area’ uphill of the proposed site so enough water is seeping underground 
rock with lots of cracks in it to let the water flow underground
a spot to drill in that is free from contaminated land.  
Finding surface water sources is not easy.   Read more