Environment Southland’s data confirms that Southland has had its driest year since 1971.
Southland received only 79% of the usual normal rainfall, with some areas experiencing particularly low rainfall levels.
Environment Southland director of science and information Graham Sevicke-Jones said the Clifden area received 413mm less than usual, while the Mokoreta was at a 13-year low.
“The rainfall we have had has been enough to boost the levels of the major rivers, but many areas, particularly coastal areas, continue to be very dry.”
Aquifer levels remain low but have stopped declining in parts of Northern Southland over the past fortnight. In Edendale and across lowland Southland, aquifers have continued declining to record lows. Soil moisture is low but intermittent rainfall has prevented further drying across most of Southland.
NIWA has also released information on Seasonal Climate Outlook (Jan to March 2018) which suggests temperatures are very likely to be above average, rainfall is likely to be near normal, and soil moisture levels and river flows are equally likely to be in the near normal range. Go to www.niwa.co.nz/climate/seasonal-climate-outlook/seasonal-climate-outlook-january-march-2018 for more on NIWA's Seasonal Climate Outlook.
People who irrigate are reminded 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.