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Dry weather means care advisable

DENISE PIPER
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013
Sprinkler
DENISE PIPER
SPRINKLER SPLASH: The Whangarei District Council says there is no need for severe water saving measures in central Whangarei, yet.

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Whangarei Leader

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The ground may be dry but Whangarei people do not have to stop watering their gardens yet.

The regional council is warning that some areas in Northland are at risk of potential water shortages unless there is significant rain soon.

Provisional results show just 8.2mm fell in central Whangarei for the whole of January. The average is 90mm.

But Whangarei District Council says its main dams are near to full thanks to significant rain around Christmas time.

Water services manager Andrew Venmore says Whau Valley Dam is at 90 per cent capacity and Wilson's Dam is at 97 per cent.

The dams were at 72 per cent capacity in January 2010, the year water restrictions had to be brought in.

"The council collects water from a range of sources but our main supply is from large dams that allow us to continue to provide water even when river and ground water levels are getting low," he says.

"We don't envisage any problems during the course of the summer. Even so, we will continue to monitor the draw closely."

Mr Venmore's advice to households is not to waste water and to have sensible water conservation habits, particularly around gardening and car washing.

"At the same time, severe water saving measures are not necessary at the domestic level right now," he says.

The regional council agrees there is no need for alarm but is giving a precautionary early warning.

It has written to 400 holders of water use resource consents, urging them to closely monitor their water use and prepare for restrictions.

Water resources and hydrology programme manager Dale Hansen says rain over the past several months has been significantly lower than usual in many parts of Northland.

"January has also been dry with low rainfall amounts, high temperatures and persistent westerly winds resulting in low soil moisture and reduced water resources," he says.

DairyNZ is urging dairy farmers to look at options to manage through the dry conditions.

Regional team leader Craig McBeth says farmers should be looking at ways to keep a core group of cows milking until pasture growth recovers.

Suggestions include implementing some culling, tallying supplements and ensuring pastures are not over-grazed by keeping rotations as close to 30 days as possible and considering milking every 16 hours instead of twice a day.

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- Whangarei Leader

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