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Water rationing for Waimea Plains from Monday 6 December

December 2nd
[Tasman District Council press release]

Tasman District Council’s Dry Weather Taskforce Convenor, Dennis Bush-King, said that water rationing for users on the Waimea Plains will be implemented effective Monday, 6 December.

“We are still seeing a continuing decline in groundwater levels and the Waimea River flows which is now less than 1500 litres per second at the Appleby Bridge and dropping by up to 100 litres per day. With the continuing lack of rain, this means that the restrictions on the Waimea Plains need to be implemented” said Mr Bush-King.

“The Riwaka River is okay at present as are the Moutere and Motueka zones but even these are approaching record lows for this time of the year and some of these areas will be reaching trigger levels within the next week or two. The Wai-iti River is still flowing at Livingston’s and the Kainui dam is full at this stage and we don’t need to release water at present but that will come too” said Mr Bush-King.

“The rivers have held up well considering the plains are so dry. However, Council is likely to have to quickly move through to Stage 2 which is a 35% cut for most Waimea Plains users following next week’s meeting of the Dry Weather Task Force. This is in order to manage the potential impact of salt water moving up the Waimea River and along the coastal margins.

“We expect that water demand will increase right through to January and at the current rate the Waimea River at Appleby will be at 1000 litres per second by this weekend and will continue to drop rapidly, so stage three rationing could be implemented this side of Christmas. Growers should plan for this prospect” said Mr Bush-King

The Waimea Plains have had less than 7% of the normal November rainfall measured at the Wairoa Gorge and that comes on top of only 35% of normal rainfall for October. “We really could do with 50mm of rain on the Plain’s to get us through to Christmas, but there is nothing on the horizon”.

Council will also issue a Water Restriction Notice in the urban areas of Richmond, Mapua – Ruby Bay, Brightwater, Hope, Wakefield and their rural extensions. This also applies 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.

“Council appreciates the co-operation of all water users. If water permit holders are not irrigating, Council needs to be advised, otherwise weekly meter returns are required.” Mr Bush-King said that failing to submit water meter returns meant Council would do the meter reading and there would be an extra charge to permit holders.

Comment by Val Rae:
[Posted 4 December 2010]

I would like to ask Mr Bush-King TDC why the growers at Waimea are allowed to water their plants during the day, when the water trying to get to the plants is being evaporated by the sun. It's just wasteful to use our precious water during the day in such a way. All household gardeners know the best time to water is early morning and late evening to avoid evaporation. I would like to see this type of restriction put on the growers.

Response from Chris Choat, TDC Communications:
[Posted 14 December 2010]

Water take consent holders are required to comply with their allocation limit. While the Council provides advice as to economic use of the resource it does not have any power to determine when individual water consent holders irrigate.

The Council has encouraged water users to irrigate wisely i.e. at night or early morning. The majority do follow this advice, however, there are instances where crop specifications and production needs may dictate particular irrigation times.

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