The much hoped for rain across the Waimea over the weekend never really materialised, with the water shortage still critical.
Urban residents and businesses connected to the reticulated supply in Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Wakefield Mapua, Ruby Bay and their rural extensions remain on restrictions banning most outdoor water use and requiring a 25 per cent cut in use by businesses.
These restrictions also apply to the rural water schemes of Dovedale, Eighty-Eight Valley and Redwood Valley.
Outdoor water use is prohibited except: watering fruit/veges using a bucket/water can on alternate days; firefighting; and for genuine health and safety reasons.
Tasman District Council acting engineering services manager Dwayne Fletcher says he is encouraged by the response from businesses and homeowners to the call for water conservation, but more savings are needed.
“We are still drawing too much water from our supplies,” Dwayne says.
“Most businesses have begun reducing their water use to meet the 25 per cent cut even though many will face extra costs as a result. Don’t wait for official word to begin doing your bit – the situation is critical now and immediate action is required.
“There are lots of simple ways you can save water around the house. If you haven’t already, please check out our website for some tips.
“If you’d like to set a goal for your household, have a go at trying to use just 125 litres a day for each family member. Read your meter regularly to keep track. There’s info on our website about how to read your meter, and it’s a really good habit to get into so you’re aware of how much you use. Keeping an eye on your meter will help you identify leaks as well.”
Water permit holders in the Motupiko and Dovedale water zones must stop using water for anything other than essential human use and stock drinking water from Monday 25 February.
A cease take direction has been issued to these areas as a critical water shortage continues for much of Tasman District.
Dry Weather Taskforce convenor Dennis Bush-King says while urban water restrictions would remain the same for another week, permit holders in several water zones as well as those on the Dovedale scheme would face greater restrictions.
“There is no water left in the lower reaches of the Motupiko or Dove rivers, so they will move to a cease take,” Dennis said. That means water cannot be taken for irrigation and may only be used for human and stock health purposes.
Other areas that will face increased restrictions next week include upper Motueka upstream of Woodstock, and Golden Bay, both of which move to Stage 2 rationing – a 35 per cent cut in allocation.
Dennis says the situation remains serious and the prospect of some rain towards the end of the week, while welcome, is unlikely to bring immediate relief.
“Everybody in our community – whether you are urban, rural, connected to the reticulated supply, with a private bore or a permit holder – needs to think extremely carefully about every drop of water you use. Please don’t irrigate fields unless you absolutely have to. It’s cheaper to buy feed than to water a paddock at the moment, so if you don’t have a commercial crop that desperately needs water right now please think twice,” Dennis says.
The current dry conditions have surpassed the previous driest period.
“We have had 6.6 mm of rain in the last 55 days, he said late last week. The previous driest 55-day period was in 2001 with 17.2mm.
“Soils are very dry and any water the plants are getting is coming from irrigation. This is why rationing is hurting. If you can only apply 35 per cent of your permitted allocation you have to be very careful as to where it goes.”
He says the slowing rate of decline in river flow and the fact salt levels are stable probably shows the impact of the restrictions already in place and the temporary bund which has been constructed in the lower Waimea River. “That’s allowing us to keep restrictions on the Waimea Plains at their current levels rather than escalating them further at this stage.”