Growers and residents in the Bay of Plenty are being urged to consider reducing their water use, in case more dry weather brings on a drought.
During the past year, the region has experienced exceptionally dry weather, with just 60-80 percent of the usual rainfall.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council says the dry weather has meant some waterways are lower than they should be, which is dangerous for the ecosystem.
"Our streams were at some of their lowest ever recorded readings through a good chunk of 2020," says Bay of Plenty Regional Council spokesperson Steve Pickles.
The council has developed a Water Shortage Management Plan, which includes monitoring, site visits and, if needed, putting in water restrictions.
At this stage, there was no need for enforced water restrictions, but those could be enacted if the water receded too low, says Pickles.
"With the change in climate, and the extended dry period we've had, we expect we will have to implement some sort of controls."
Some bursts of rain have eased pressure in the past couple of months but those working in horticulture and farming should prepare for the worst, he says.
"For orchardists, it's thinking about how they could perhaps manage their irrigation systems in a way to reduce the volumes and rate of take during that period.
"The reason we do that is because the worst case scenario is some of our rivers and streams running dry. That could result if fish kills, elevated temperatures in our streams, increased algae bloom and sedimentation."
Residents in town could also do their part by minimising car-washing and watering their gardens, he says
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