Water use

Why is this important?

Measuring water use in urban areas helps to identify ways to use and allocate water fairly, and to educate the population on using water more efficiently. 

Groundwater from extensive aquifers under the Canterbury Plains supplies most of the greater Christchurch area. Demand for water in urban areas is expected to rise as the population grows.  

Key points

  • In 2018, consumption of drinking water (including everyday household use) was estimated to be 450 litres per person per day in Selwyn urban areas, and 359 litres in Christchurch urban areas.
  • Average consumption has been declining in Selwyn urban areas since 2010, while Christchurch saw a dip in water use post the 2010-11 earthquakes but then increased from 2014 before decreasing again in 2017.

Note this is an interactive chart and you can click on the legend items to change what is shown on the graph.

Data notes

Water usage per person is calculated by dividing the water abstraction in a year (uptake from aquifers) by the current population (which is estimated between census years).

Selwyn data is calculated for water used within urban schemes only. These urban schemes are Arthurs Pass, Castle Hill, Darfield, Doyleston, Dunsandel, Kirwee, Lake Coleridge, Leeston, Lincoln, Prebbleton, Rakaia Huts, Rolleston, Sheffield/Waddington, Southbridge, Springfield, Springston, Tai Tapu/Otahuna, Taumutu, Upper Selwyn Huts and West Melton.

Water used in Selwyn includes all water that is abstracted. Therefore this includes both residential and commercial/industrial use as well as water leakage.

The Selwyn District Council has nearly completed installing water meters in townships in the district. This programme started in 2015-16 and may have contributed to the decrease in water use in recent years.

Water in Christchurch City is abstracted from the Christchurch-West Melton aquifer. Lyttelton Harbour Basin is also supplied water from this source.

Banks Peninsula is excluded (Diamond Harbour, Governor's Bay and Little River, along with other bays and Akaroa)

Christchurch data includes all water abstraction from groundwater and rivers/streams in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

This includes water that is used for commercial or industrial purposes, as well as leakage amount, so there is some data discrepancy.

It is assumed that the amount pumped or abstracted is the amount consumed by the Christchurch Territorial Authority Population.

A proportion of the water abstracted will be used for commercial or industrial purposes or lost due to leakage.

Data information and downloads

Data source

Individual councils

Data access

Tables on request

Date updated

Year to June (2018 last update)

Data download

Download data tables [XLSX, 12 KB]

Page updated

May 2019

Data breakdowns

Geographic area

Territorial Authorities - Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council


Links to other information and reports