The lower reservoir and its earth dam was constructed first with the upper dam added later as the need for more water arose. The use of Wellington's water supply for hydraulic machinery appears to have been serendipitous, inasmuch as no reference seems to have been made for this potential use when the dams were being debated, however I have not fully researched the matter and do not intend to. It is sufficient to say that the utilisation of mains water in Wellington, for motive power, is recorded in newspaper articles and "letters to the editor" in The Evening Post over the later part of the 19th C and early 20th C - many such including reports of problems with supply, restrictions on the time water could be used for hydraulic machinery and often the terms of supply included the phrase that "water could be used when it was available" which was surely a police hard to enforce!
There were numerous prosecutions reported for water theft (either not paying or disconnecting the water meters) and announcements on two occasions when The Evening Post became wholly water powered and when the Government Printing Office had to justify its use of one million gallons of water "in a comparatively short period" It turned out to be a reporting error and the consumption was in fact 100,000 gallons - still huge consumption. The machine in question printed railway tickets and at a time when rail travel was all there was (except horse and coastal shipping) they must have printed millions as the Crown had a monopoly on ticket sales, even it appears, for private railways?
The Lower Karori Dam is listed here
And the Upper Karori Dam is listed here
Both are very important items of civil engineering heritage
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Photo taken in Zealandia, Karori, Wellington 6012, New Zealand
Misplaced? Suggest new location