Southland’s low water levels “concerning”

6 December 2017

It’s the summer Southlanders wished for last year, however the extended period of warm weather is having an impact on the region’s water resources

Environment Southland director of science and information Graham Sevicke-Jones said Southland hasn’t experienced a dry period like this since 1990.

“It’s been an unusually dry year to date, with approximately 81% of the usual rainfall for the region.

“Our monitoring shows that the water levels in our underground aquifers are very low, which means that the already low river levels could drop quickly, if the dry period continues as forecasted. This is a concerning situation.”

With one month left in the year, Southland may experience its lowest yearly rainfall since Environment Southland’s monitoring began in the mid-1970s.

According to NIWA’s long-term forecast, Southland is expected to experience lower than usual rainfall during the summer.

Farmers and households who rely on aquifers for their water supplies should ensure their bores are well maintained and make contingency plans in case their supply fails.

The most common reason for a bore running dry is that well screens become clogged from lack of maintenance. Over time, silt and fine material accumulates and impedes the flow of water into the bore or well.

Bore yield and reliability of supply can generally be restored by having the bore or well flushed by an experienced contractor.

Landowners should also check hoses and fittings to ensure there are no leaks and that pump intakes and foot valves are adequately positioned below the water table.

Land users 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.

Environment Southland will continue to monitor the situation closely.

More information is available on Environment Southland’s website at, including graphs of aquifer levels, live river levels and situation updates.

Page reviewed: 06 Dec 2017 4:29pm