The region was hit hard by drought last summer. And it doesn’t look like we’re off the hook this summer either, with the Tasman District Council Dry Weather Task Force already preparing for another dry, hot summer.
Earlier this year the region saw the driest months since records began 78 years ago, with just 8.8mm of rain across the Waimea Plains in January and February.
Now, the council’s Dry Weather taskforce is already beginning to make preparations.
Rob Smith, Environmental Information manager, said that “The first task-force meeting was held much earlier than in previous years.
We took on board from last year that we need to be well prepared for the dry season to come.”
Environment and Planning Manager Dennis Bush-King says that rain hasn’t been at a high level this year, with the region being between 8 to 26 % behind its usual annual rainfall.
“We are starting behind the eight ball.”
Dennis says that The Kainui Dam is only 76% full right now, and that normally it should be 100% full by November 1.
“It got down to 18 per cent during the last drought, which is pretty low.”
“Despite the wetter months in May and July, we are still below average for this year’s cumulative rainfall. This trend is mirrored across the region.”
Another indicator that a dry summer is on the way is soil moisture, which is currently sitting at 53% for the Waimea Plains.
“You don’t want it to be under 60%”
However, soil moisture is looking better than last year.
“With the rain in the last week, soil moisture has recovered to levels above this time last year.”
Dennis says that while the rain we have had over the weekend has been helpful, residents still need to be vigilant.
We will be doing our best as a council to make it through another dry summer.
“This year we’ve got to use our water wisely,” Dennis says.
“We certainly got down to levels of restriction that we hadn’t been to in a long time last summer – we had debriefs to find out what worked and what didn’t.”
In the Waimea Plains, rationing may be staged differently than it has been in the past, so it’s important to pay attention to the news and council website.
“I know that some water users have made serious attempts to prepare as well, which will go a long way.”