Campers warned about rising lake levels

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 14:32 08/01/2014
waitaki lakes camp
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
WATCH THE WATER: People holidaying around the Waitaki lakes, such as campers around places including the Sailor's Cutting camping ground, are being advised to be wary of rapidly rising lake and river levels.

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Waitaki Civil Defence has been advising those planning on camping around the Waitaki Lakes area to be aware of the potential for fast-rising lake levels.

Environment Canterbury recently warned that lake and river levels in the areas, as well as in the Mackenzie Basin, may rise quickly over the holiday period during heavy rain events along the main divide.

Waitaki's Civil Defence team has been taking action and Waitaki District Council emergency services manager Chris Raine says staff will be visible in the area checking on camp sites.

"Last year quite a few campers were caught out when lake and river levels rose rapidly as a result of energy companies spilling water from the hydro lakes.

"We know where the water levels got to last time and we want to advise campers on the best spots to camp to avoid getting caught out if it happens again."

He says emergency services representatives have met to go though what steps would be taken if water levels do rise.

The meetings have included members of Waimate's Civil Defence team.

"We want to ensure we are well-placed to respond to any event as quickly and effectively as possible to minimise any risk to people and property."

Mr Raine says while the weather can be fine along the Waitaki Lakes, it can be raining heavily along the main divide and it's that water which impacts on hydro lake levels.

"This is a common occurrence during December and January. We will be keeping a close eye on the long range weather forecast and taking action as required."

Environment Canterbury spokesperson Philip Lees advised people visiting the area over summer to take care when selecting a camp site.

"Choose your sites carefully, keep an eye on water levels while you're there and if in any doubt listen for flood warnings in local print media, broadcast over Port FM and posted on our website.

Information about river and lake levels an be found at ecan.govt.nz.

WAITAKI HERALD

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- South Canterbury

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