11 December 2017
The rain that fell in many parts of Southland over the weekend has only provided a temporary relief for rivers and aquifers, Environment Southland monitoring shows.
Rain had not reached all parts of the region, with no rainfall recorded at all in the Waikaia catchment.
The highest amounts of rain were recorded in northern Southland, with the headwaters of the Aparima River receiving 34.5mm and the headwaters of the Oreti River receiving 26mm of rain.
However these amounts were not enough to have any real impact on groundwater or river levels, Environment Southland director of science and information Graham Sevicke-Jones said.
“Rivers have risen slightly, but are likely to be back to previous levels within the next couple of days.
“Most of our groundwater monitoring sites are now at the lowest levels we have recorded for this time of year. Three of them are at their lowest since our monitoring began.”
MetService is predicting more showers over the coming days, however it’s too early to know what impact they will have on river levels and flows.
“We’re still asking those relying on groundwater to ensure their bores are well maintained, and to make contingency plans in case their supply fails,” Graham said.
Southland’s total annual rainfall is now at 79% of usual levels, and some areas of Southland have had as little as 61% of their usual annual rainfall.
People who irrigate are advised to check their consents and identify any triggers that will require them to make changes to their usage, so that they are informed and prepared if water levels get any lower.
Households using tank water for their drinking supply may be running low and looking to alternative sources, such as bore or stored water supplies.
“We recommend having any alternative supplies tested by a laboratory first, to ensure they meet drinking water standards,” Graham said.
More information about the current low water levels is available on Environment Southland’s website at www.es.govt.nz/low-water-levels, including graphs of aquifer levels, live river levels and situation updates. Environment Southland will continue to monitor the situation closely.