Southland has had its driest year since 1971, Environment Southland reports. The province received only 79% of the usual normal rainfall in 2017, with some areas experiencing particularly low rainfall levels.
Graham Sevicke-Jones, Environment Southland’s director of science and information, said the Clifden area received 413mm less than usual, while the Mokoreta was at a 13-year low. “The rainfall we have had has been enough to boost the levels of the major rivers, but many areas, particularly coastal areas, continue to be very dry.”
Aquifer levels remain low but have stopped declining in parts of Northern Southland over the past fortnight. In Edendale and across lowland Southland, aquifers have continued declining to record lows. Soil moisture is low but intermittent rainfall has prevented further drying across most of Southland.
Meanwhile NIWA’s climate outlook for January to March this year suggests temperatures are very likely to be above average, rainfall is likely to be near normal, and soil moisture levels and river flows are also likely to be in the near normal range.
People who irrigate are reminded to check their consents and identify any triggers that will require them to make changes to their usage, so that they are informed and prepared if water levels get any lower.
Households using tank water for their drinking supply may be running low and looking to alternative sources, such as bore or stored water supplies. Environment Southland recommends having any alternative supplies tested by a laboratory first, to ensure they meet drinking water standards.
For more information about water levels visit Environment Southland’s website at www.es.govt.nz/low-water-levels.