Water restrictions may be on the horizon for the Tasman region again this year, as dry and windy conditions have seen river and aquifer levels start to decline.

While heavy rain before Christmas meant that there hasn’t been as much pressure this year to conserve water quite so early. Dry Weather Taskforce commissioner Denis Bush-King says that current weather conditions mean that more water use will be needed around the district.

The Dry Weather Taskforce met in November last year to begin planning for another dry summer .

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.”

The Dry Weather Taskforce met on Tuesday, January 21, to start to make decisions about whether any water restrictions will be needed in the coming weeks.

“With no rain promised in the 14-day extended forecast, we believe we’ll reach the trigger levels for water restrictions in the next couple of weeks.” says Denis Bush-King.

“There’s also the possibility of restrictions for some specific resource consent holders being needed sooner than that in some parts of the district.”

Denis says that December 2019 was a lot wetter than the previous December.

“That has allowed us to have a bit of a break this year.”

According to Denis, the Waimea plains have had 3% less rain this January than January last year, but says the fact that we had a “good dose” of rain in December has relieved some of the pressure.

“We’re in a much better position than we were last year, thanks to the rain in December”

Only 8.8mm of rain fell on the Waimea Plains in January and February last year, making them the driest two months since records began 78 years ago.
Dennis says that rain wasn’t at a high level last year, with the region being between 8 to 26 % behind its usual annual rainfall by November.

Denis says that the general message is that council is still encouraging people to conserve water where they can, both for urban and rural users.
“Things can change quite quickly.”

While the rain we had in December has been helpful, residents still need to be vigilant, says Denis.

Any decisions about future water restrictions that are made by the Dry Weather Taskforce will be explained on the council website.

This year, water restrictions follow a different format for homes, businesses and organisations on the public water network. These are explained on the website, tasman.govt.nz/water-restrictions.

For those who hold a resource consent to use water, Council will release details using the same process as in the past.

Details will be released through the website, media release, and by letter to explain the applicable restrictions.

“Permi holders should be familiar with the terms of their consent and be prepared as best they can to respond to drying conditions,” says Denis.

“We ask everyone who has access to a private bore or to the Council water supply, to please reduce your water use as much as you can, every drop counts.”

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