Rural communities encouraged to prepare as further water restrictions kick in

Rural communities are encouraged to prepare for further dry conditions as the number of water restrictions in place for the Horizons Region continues to grow. 

Horizons Regional Council environmental data manager Brent Watson says some rivers and streams are getting close to record low levels for this time of year.

“It is highly unlikely that the region will get any significant rainfall in the next two weeks,” he says.

“This means we will not be able to lift water restrictions any time soon and more zones will drop into restriction over the next few days. We are encouraging rural communities to start seriously thinking about what measures they need to put in place to cope.

“Horizons’ environmental data and science staff are actively monitoring the situation across the region and are undertaking a number of detailed catchment monitoring projects, as critical low flow levels are reached.”

Horizons senior environmental scientist water allocation Raelene Mercer says 123 consent holders that take surface water for activities such as irrigation and town supply, are having to cease or reduce their activity.

“The majority of these water take consents are electronically monitored and available in near real time to Horizons staff and consent holders, with summary information reported on daily,” she says.

“It is really important that consent holders are vigilant and ensure they are adhering to their conditions as we take infringement very seriously. We highly recommend those with telemetered takes register on our Watermatters website so they can check their relevant minimal flow and water use volumes.

“While stock drinking water and domestic supply is permitted, we’d like to remind everyone to conserve water as much as they can in these areas also.”

Horizons senior emergency management coordinator Ross Brannigan says Horizons understands drying conditions can put a lot of pressure on landowners.

“Horizons will be working with the Manawatū-Whanganui Rural Coordination Group to keep them informed of the situation. There is support networks available for those that are struggling and we’d like to remind landowners to reach out if they need it.”

Urban communities are also being asked to conserve water with many local city or district councils having restrictions in place.

“Those who have their own water tank supply may want to consider checking their levels before too long,” says Mr Watson.

“People going for a swim to cool off may also start to notice that the river is not smelling as fresh as it normally does, or an increased level of algae. This is likely to be due to low flows and warm conditions, however, we encourage people to check for the latest Horizons E.coli and cyanobacteria results before diving in.”