Water restrictions have returned to Tasman, and the signs don't look good, with little rain forecast.
The council's Dry Weather Taskforce convener, Dennis Bush-King, said today that water rationing for users on the Waimea Plains, including urban areas, and the Moutere eastern and western groundwater zones would be implemented from Monday.
"River and groundwater levels have been dropping throughout the Waimea Plains, although the rain we had in January has meant some of the confined aquifers under the plains are better off."
The Wairoa River at the gorge was now flowing at about 2600 litre/second, which meant stage 1 rationing - involving a 20 per cent cut in consented water takes - would be introduced for all water management zones on the plains except the Lower Confined and Hope Minor aquifers.
For the first time the cuts covered the Moutere western and eastern groundwater zones.
"The western zone is at the lowest recorded level for this time of the year and as this aquifer extends out to sea into Tasman Bay there is a need to preserve aquifer pressures to protect from any saltwater issues and also the dropping water levels affects other bore yields."
With apple picking under way the demand for water was falling but rationing would still affect growers and the council's own urban supply, Mr Bush-King said.
However, no rationing was required in the Wai-iti Zone as the council had been releasing water from the Wai-iti water augmentation dam at Kainui since mid-last week to maintain Wai-iti River flows and recharge adjacent groundwater.
Mr Bush-King said while restrictions began next week, any early action by deep water users to conserve water would help slow dropping levels.
Some Golden Bay water users are also operating under restrictions based on conditions in their water permits.
Notices will be sent to all water permit holders this week.
The council will also be issuing a conserve water notice in the urban areas of Richmond, Mapua - Ruby Bay, Brightwater, Hope, Wakefield, Tapawera and their rural extensions. This also applied to the rural water supply schemes of Redwood Valley, 88 Valley, and Dovedale. Hand-held hosing only is permitted on odd and even calendar days corresponding to the house street number. Owners of private domestic wells in the areas subject to rationing are also directed to only water domestic gardens every second day.
Mr Bush-King said rain was predicted for the end of next week but did not look substantial enough to make much of a difference and he urged people to conserve water through February and March.
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