Turns out that we were using far too much water. I knew it!
Winter has ended, and we have poured the excesses of rain NZ gets in winter all over us, then down the drain! Now I see that summer follows winter - one should to conserve water during winter despite all the rain for use during the following drier months!
BUT there is nothing like having a limit to change your habits. I am actually enjoying the inspiration of the low water in the tank, as for the first time I am actually trying to see how little water can be used for everything. If I wash out two bowls, I pour the water in the first one to use on the second one. It feels great to be less wasteful - more humble.
I think human nature just requires a limit before we can change our habits. When I had unlimited water city water at my house, I never would have conserved water like that.
I think the biggest reason we waste water here is because we can. There is a direct relationship between using resources and our own expended energy - of course! If we use tonne of water, use the dishwasher or drier rampantly, or throw clothes in the washer if they get one spot, just being lazy and really resource-reliant. People can use far less resources when they use them with skill - and apply more of their own energy. Such as washing dishes by hand carefully with less water, hanging clothes - there are so many ways one can use skill in life to use resources well - e.g. repairing instead of just throwing something away.
The weird thing is we think we are better and smarter now because we have dishwashers and don't do things ourselves anymore. Weird. The skill emphasis is now in the production-design stage - we can just be deskilled people.