Catchment water-take restrictions as drought bites

18 Feb 2020, 8:16 AM

A catchment-wide water shortage direction is being introduced for the entire Awanui River catchment as the river falls to record-breaking lows.

The direction impacts on both those who have consents to take water from the river and those who can normally take smaller quantities of water without consent.

“In other words, we’re restricting water to essential use only,” says Northland Regional Council Water and Waste Monitoring Manager Ali McHugh. “This includes people who have resource consent to take water for irrigation from the river.”

Most consents for taking water from rivers have a condition that requires water takes to stop once the river reaches a specific (low) flow and the Awanui River has undoubtedly reached that point.

A large number of properties (highlighted areas in map) will be potentially affected by the catchment shutdown, which is the forerunner of similar water shortage directions in other Northland catchments with critically low river flows and groundwater levels.

The catchment-wide directives restrict water use from both surface and groundwater sources to “reasonable household domestic needs and stock welfare needs".

Water cannot be taken for irrigation, garden watering (other than with recycled domestic water from showers, washing machines, sinks, baths and basins) during the 14-day term of water storage directions. Car washing, water blasting, and filling swimming and spa pools are also banned activities.

“We will review the situation after the 14 days is up and it’s likely that further water shortage directions will be issued if no significant rain has fallen in the catchment of the river,” McHugh says.

“We will monitor water use; and those found using non-essential water such as for filling swimming pools, washing boats and irrigation, may find themselves facing enforcement action for breaching the water shortage directions.”

People who have critical needs to take water and are unclear about whether or not they can take water under this direction, should contact the regional council on 09 470 1200.

The regional council has been issuing general advice about the dry weather/low rainfall conditions and warning of potential water shortages since last Spring and began formally advising consent holders late last year.

Download a larger version of the Awanui Catchment Map in PDF format (2.35MB)

Map of the Awanui Catchment.