Water curbs loom for region

ROBIN RAYMOND
Last updated 13:56 19/12/2012

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Water restrictions could be needed in some parts of Marlborough in the new year if the dry weather continues, a council hydrologist says.

Just 7mm of rain fell in November, which was the third lowest rainfall for the month since 1930, according to records from Crown research institute Plant and Food.

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said river levels had dropped to the point that some consent holders had to stop taking water, while soil moisture was down to "virtually nothing".

Rain yesterday and on Monday night was welcome and most rivers and aquifers were in good shape now, but restrictions might be needed if it didn't rain in the next three weeks, he said.

However, it was not unusually dry for Marlborough at this time of year, he said.

"If it continues to be dry for the next three weeks, we could get consents turning off in Wairau, Waihopai, Awatere, Rai Valley," Mr Wadsworth said.

Restrictions are rarely needed in Blenheim, but might be called for in Renwick, Havelock and Picton if the dry spell continued.

Council staff discussed strategies yesterday, he said.

Mr Wadsworth urged people to use water wisely, and people with irrigation schemes to follow the conditions of their consent.

"The main thing is for people to be aware of the situation and the possibilities."

Meadowbank Station farmer Duncan Grigg said the wet winter had helped keep some water around and it was no drier than usual for summer.

"In the winter, it was really wet, but it dried off quite quickly in the spring. Due to the winter, our creeks are holding on, but the ones that traditionally dry out are starting to."

Sam Contracting owner Sam Orchard agreed and said, while river levels were slightly down on last year it was "nothing sinister".

"It's no different to last year really, we've just had a bit of a drip dry nor'wester."

The Niwa long-term forecast for Marlborough from December to February predicts rainfall will be about the normal level, which is typically between 70mm and 170mm of rain depending on where it was measured.

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- The Marlborough Express

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