Water shortages, restrictions possible, NRC warns

19 Dec 2017, 1:24 PM

Northland's district councils, major industries, consented water users and the public are being urged to monitor their water use closely due to the current dry conditions.

Colin Dall, the Northland Regional Council's Group Manager Regulatory Services, says rain over the late spring period has been significantly lower than usual in many parts of Northland, particularly in the southern and western catchments.

The council's Kaipara Harbour rain gauge has recorded only 12mm over the last 28 days and the daily mean soil temperatures recorded at the NIWA climate stations in Dargaville and Warkworth are running three to four degrees above average. The combination of low rainfall and hot temperatures is driving the soil moisture deficits down to 110-125mm in these areas, which is very high this early in summer.

"Although rain is forecasted this summer, the timing of its arrival will be critical," Mr Dall says. "If the region continues to experience hot temperatures as forecasted by the MetService, river flows will be very low in the Kaihu, Poutō, Bream Bay and Mangawhai catchments by January next year. The situation needs to be monitored closely until significant rain is received."

The regional council is encouraging Northlanders in affected areas to conserve water wherever practical. Water take consent holders need to ensure their water use, stream flows, groundwater and lake levels are closely monitored in accordance with their consent conditions. People also need to avoid wasting water and should regularly check their water systems for leaks.

Those on tank water supply should regularly check their tank level and be aware that there may be significant delays in ordering water tankers. 

Those on town water supplies should regularly check the bewaterwise.org.nz website for water use restrictions in their area. http://bewaterwise.org.nz

The regional council will continue to monitor rainfall, groundwater levels and stream flows around Northland closely and update affected parties as required. This includes regular contact with district councils which are responsible for town water supplies. 

“Despite the regional council’s early call for restraint with water use, there is no need for alarm at this stage and we are simply taking a sensible, precautionary approach,” Mr Dall says. 

“This is a heads-up; it’s about giving people the information they need to ensure they’re prepared early and thinking ahead.”

Information on rainfall, river levels and flows can be found on the council’s website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/riversrainfalldata  

The website is automatically updated every hour to provide the most up-to-date information.