Rain earlier this week will have no affect on water restrictions put in place by the Tasman District Council.
The council’s Dry Weather Taskforce convenor, Dennis Bush-King, says the rain on Sunday night was barely enough to make a dent in soil moisture levels on the Waimea Plains and will have no impact on the restrictions, which began on Monday.
The taskforce, which met last week, decided that continuing dry conditions and increased water demand will lead to falls in the Wairoa and Waimea river levels, so it made sense to move to stage one rationing for urban users and most water users on the Waimea Plains.
The stage one rationing, which means a cut in use by 20 per cent of consented water take levels, applies in the Upper Catchment, Reservoir, Waimea West, Delta, Golden Hills, and the Upper Confined Aquifer zones on the Waimea Plains.
The Wai-iti zone is also affected by dry conditions but water began to be released from the Kainui Dam from last Friday.
Dennis says users in the Lower Confined Aquifer, Hope Gravel and Motupiko zones will have another few days before rationing comes in.
He says imposing stage one restrictions in those areas now is in line with the taskforce’s approach to managing river levels.
“We could do with a good dose of 50mm of rain in the right place but this does not look likely,” he says.
“In light of this we have decided it is prudent to go to stage one now and preserve our water for as long as possible before we have to go to more restrictive rationing.”
Water restrictions are nothing new for the district, as they have been put in place for nine of the past 10 years. However, Dennis says this summer was one of the few where restrictions have not needed to be put in place before Christmas.
The flipside of that was that they will likely stay in place longer this year, as weather forecasts predict warm, dry weather is set to stay for a while yet.
The Waimea dam planned for the Lee Valley would remove the need for water restrictions in a similar situation in the future, he says, as it would provide a secure water supply.
Watering restrictions are also in place for urban water users in Richmond, Mapua/Ruby Bay, Brightwater, Wakefield and Hope, and their rural extensions.
That means only hand-held hosing of gardens every second day is permitted according to house numbers – i.e. if you have an even house number you may water on the even number calendar dates.
Although the dry period began with full aquifers, Dennis said as crops start to mature the water demand will increase. Soil moisture levels are falling and were down to 23 per cent in Appleby, so the ground is starting to dry out, he said.
The taskforce meets weekly so decisions on future rationing can be made relatively quickly.
The restrictions also apply to areas of Nelson city that are supplied with water by the Tasman District Council.
They include a number of streets just east of Champion Road.

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