Hot days strain water supply

Water restrictions are in place around South Canterbury due to temperature spikes increasing demand over January and February.

Timaru District Council has put in place level 1 restrictions for Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Temuka, Timaru, Beautiful Valley, Downlands, Orari, Peel Forest, Rangitata Huts, Seadown, Te Moana, Winchester and Orari water schemes. Level 1 does not permit watering of lawns.

Council drainage and water manager Grant Hall said monitoring of water flows had shown an increased demand during the hot dry days over the past few weeks.

"We are trying to minimise the impact."

With the current restrictions in place there was 20 per cent less water use than there would be usually on a hot day.

Mr Hall said that if the general trend continued then they would look at imposing level 2 restrictions.

That allows a single hose with a sprinkler or micro jet system to water gardens for a maximum of two hours a day between the hours of 7pm and 8am.

In January there were four days with the mercury rising above 30 degrees Celsius. January 5 had a high of 33 degrees.

According to Niwa this month there have been five days in Timaru exceeding 25 degrees till February 18. The hottest day of the month was 27.5 degrees on February 10. Temperatures were taken at Timaru Airport.

The average temperature has been 0.4C above this time last year, and 1.0C above the long term average.

Niwa climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said as well as the heat peaks there had only been 23mm of rain so far this month, which was half the amount last year.

She said the big high over New Zealand created the warmer, drier weather but South Canterbury was well placed to cope.

"Though South Canterbury has a significant soil moisture deficit it is normal for that area at this time of year".

With rainfall in January and cooler temperatures expected in March there was unlikely to be a drought.

The North and east of the North Island was not in such a fortunate position, with extremely dry soils, and low rainfall since November last year.

The Timaru Herald