City may face water restrictions

Invercargill residents may see water restrictions as soon as next week as the Ōreti River, where the city’s water comes from, is at risk of running low.

Invercargill City Council Group Manager Infrastructure Erin Moogan said the Ōreti River flow has been in the low range since December 2021. When the river flow drops to a certain point, residential unattended hosing or sprinkler use would be prohibited, she said.

Under Council’s permit to draw water there was a condition set by Environment Southland to apply water conservation measures according to the river’s flow.

The Council Infrastructure Committee meeting heard on Tuesday that the first trigger for conservation measures is when the flow falls to, or below 4 cubic metres per second. The second trigger is set at 3.2 cubic metres per second. In early February flow dropped to approximately 6 cubic metres per second.

“The Ōreti has been struggling for quite some time and it will take quite a bit of rain to recharge the river feeding systems. NIWA is predicting another dry Autumn, which, after a dry summer, means we have to be prepared for the Ōreti levels to drop significantly,” she said.

Ms Moogan said domestic unattended hosing and sprinklers would be prohibited when the first trigger point was reached, which could happen as early as next week.
The second trigger point activates the prohibition of all domestic outside use of water such as washing cars and watering gardens, she said.

Water restrictions were last applied in January 2018, with the second trigger point being applied for the first time.
“The second trigger can be quite soon after the first so people should be prepared.”

It is important that Council follows the measures set by ES in order to protect the Ōreti river system, she said.