Southland water levels “concerning”

The extended period of warm weather is having an impact on the Southland’s water resources.

Environment Southland director of science and information Graham Sevicke-Jones said the region had not experienced a similar dry period since 1990.

“It’s been an unusually dry year to date, with approximately 81% of the usual rainfall for the region,” he said. “Our monitoring shows that the water levels in our underground aquifers are very low, which means that the already low river levels could drop quickly, if the dry period continues as forecasted. This is a concerning situation.”

With less than a month left in the year, Southland may experience its lowest yearly rainfall since Environment Southland’s monitoring began in the mid-1970s.

According to the long-term forecast from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Southland is expected to experience lower than usual rainfall during the summer.

Farmers and households who rely on aquifers for water should ensure their bores are well maintained and make contingency plans in case their supply fails.

The most common reason for a bore running dry is that well screens become clogged from lack of maintenance. Over time, silt and fine material accumulates and impedes the flow of water into the bore or well. Bore yield and reliability of supply can generally be restored by having the bore or well flushed by an experienced contractor.

Hoses and fittings should also be checked to ensure there are no leaks and that pump intakes and foot valves are adequately positioned below the water table.

Land users who irrigate are advised 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.

For more information including up-to-date river and groundwater levels along with more information, visit the Environment Southland website.