The Rotorua area is moving to level one of a water shortage event as Ngongotahā Stream reaches its lowest recorded flow since records began in 1975.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council water shortage event manager Steve Pickles says water flows in the Paraiti (Mangorewa), Waiari and Ngongotahā streams in particular are continuing to decline due to dry conditions.
The Rotorua Focus Zone, which includes streams with their headwaters in the Mamaku ranges, was established last summer when some of the lowest-ever stream flows were recorded in the area.
“We’ve entered the summer period with lingering drought conditions from the previous two years’ low rainfall,” says Steve.
“Raising the alert level for these streams to level one signals to water users in the Rotorua Focus Zone that there could be a need for intervention if dry conditions continue.
“Water restrictions for consented water users would only occur if the area moved to Level 3.
“Regional council staff are now increasing monitoring of the streams and will be contacting consented water users in the zone to advise them of the elevated alert level.”
Map showing the Rotorua Focus Zone. Image: BOPRC.
Steve says rainfall over the next three months is forecasted to be near average however, due to the current La Niña conditions, rain is expected to fall in heavy bursts with long dry periods in-between.
Regular periods of steady rain will likely be needed to halt the Rotorua Focus Zone streams’ declining trend, he says.
If the alert level is raised to level three, council may have to impose water restrictions on users to ensure the health and mauri of the streams and the wildlife they support from harm are maintained, he says.
“As advised last year, water users need to be preparing and planning for water restrictions if the dry weather conditions continue. In the meantime everyone, including rural, urban and commercial users, can do their part by making sure they are using water efficiently and not wasting it.”
The rest of the Bay of Plenty remains in alert level zero.
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