It's dry and getting drier

Total fire ban in place and all current permits were suspended

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
Another dry season is upon us.

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If there is no substantial rain this weekend, Okato faces a total hose ban next week, while a total fire ban has already been put in place in rural Patea.

The New Plymouth district's water use is creeping up again, with 37.6 million litres used on Thursday, New Plymouth District Council manager of water and waste Mark Hall said.

Okato's Mangatete Stream has dropped below the threshold for the council's consented water extraction.

The district's other main water supply the Waiwhakaiho River is also dropping, Mr Hall said.

Taranaki principal rural fire officer, Nigel Dravitzki, said lighting fires in the open air was now prohibited within the rural areas of the Patea Ward of the South Taranaki District Council.

The prohibited fire season meant a total fire ban was in place and all current permits were suspended.

The only exceptions were gas fired barbecues and any unit that had a fully enclosed fire box.

Mr Dravitzki said residents needed to be aware that if they lit a fire during a prohibited fire season, the costs of extinguishing the fire would be charged to the property owner. The restrictions will remain in force until further notice.

Despite the dry conditions, Taranaki's regional gardens are faring well thanks to good planning, Tupare Gardens manager Mitch Graham said.

They installed a tank on the gardens property last year so they were able to take the minimal usage allowed from the river, rather than rely on the domestic supply, he said. "Last year was a quick steep learning curve for us because it was dry over the early stages of autumn as well."

He said there were measures to mitigate the effects of dry weather on plants. "We're in town so we have the same stresses as the average domestic gardener. It's about being smart about how you maintain the garden."

This included putting mulch on the garden over winter to retain moisture.

Mr Graham said keeping plants in good health meant they were under less stress and suffered less from insect damage. "You keep them healthy and they can fight their own battles."

It was also a matter of being smart about what they planted in various areas, he said. "Under the big old established trees you want to plant things that can handle the dry shade."

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