• A critical water shortage is looming for the Waimea Plains and the Motupiko area and drought conditions are being experienced across the district. The very high or extreme fire risk reflects these drought conditions.
  • Businesses connected to the Tasman District Council’s reticulated network must cut their water use by 25% from Monday 18 February
  • A ban on most outdoor water use by households and businesses applies from Monday 18 February. The exceptions are: Watering fruit and vegetables with a bucket/watering can only on alternate days; firefighting; for genuine health and safety purposes.
  • Stage 4 rationing – a 65% cut - applies for water permit holders in most Waimea zones and the Motupiko from Monday 18 February

Drought conditions mean the Waimea Plains is now facing a critical water shortage which will not improve unless the area receives a large amount of rain to replenish dwindling river and groundwater levels.

Tasman District Council Dry Weather Taskforce convenor Dennis Bush-King said greater restrictions were essential to try to preserve the area’s remaining water until rain arrived.

“We are acutely aware the extended restrictions are going to have a significant impact on our community. We have not taken this step lightly but we are in serious drought conditions and the need to conserve water now requires some big sacrifices to be made.  The recession of the Waimea River has slowed but only because we brought restrictions in when we did. ”

“We expect the Waimea River at Appleby will drop below 500 litres/sec by Monday next week.  Salt levels have more than doubled over the last two weeks in one of our monitoring bores and others show signs of increasing salinity which is a worry.”

Dennis said the new business and household restrictions apply to everyone connected to the reticulated water supply in Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Wakefield, Ruby Bay, Mapua, Tapawera, and rural extensions such as Redwood Valley. The rural schemes of Dovedale, Eight-Eight Valley and Redwood Valley are also covered by these restrictions and need to urgently conserve water.

“The 25% cut for businesses connected to the reticulated supply is going to be extremely challenging for many. However, business accounts for 50% of urban water demand and that sector needs to make a significant contribution to the water saving effort. Businesses also need to be aware that unless the drought is broken, they are likely to face greater restrictions. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning for this and putting contingency measures in place,” Dennis said.

“For households, the only garden watering that is allowed is for fruit and vegetables, using a bucket or water can, and only on alternate days. Pop a bucket in the shower to collect water, make use of your grey water, and let cooking water cool so you can reuse it on the garden,” Dennis said.

“Likewise, washing cars, windows and other outdoor surfaces is prohibited except for genuine health and safety reasons. Dampening property at risk from the Pigeon Valley or other live fires is allowed.”

Council enforcement officers will be out checking compliance with the restrictions and issuing warnings to anyone flouting the usage bans. Anyone who continues to ignore the restrictions may have a restrictor attached to their meter limiting their property’s water supply.

In addition to the urban restrictions, cuts apply to the following rural water zones:

  • A cease take direction continues for users in the Moutere Surface Water and the Rainy River zones and is introduced for Powley Creek.
  • Stage 4 restrictions, a cut of 65% in permitted allocations, apply in the Upper Catchment, Reservoir, Waimea West, Delta, Upper Confined Aquifer, Golden Hills and Motupiko Zones from Monday 18 February 2019.
  • Stage 2 restrictions, a 35% cut in permitted allocations, apply in the Lower Confined, Hope Gravel, Wangapeka, Dovedale, Reservoir and Wai-iti zones from Monday 18 February 2019.
  • Stage 1 restrictions, 20% cut in permitted allocations, continue to apply in the Moutere Western Groundwater, Moutere Eastern Groundwater, Tapawera, Glen Rae, Baton, Tadmor and Stanley Brook zones and will apply in the Aorere and Takaka water management zones from Monday 18 February. Those consent holders in the Takaka zone who have specific conditions requiring restrictions or cease take must comply with their more stringent consent conditions.
  • Water restrictions are also in place in the Riuwaka water management zone and flow sharing will apply in the Little Sydney water management zone.

A decision on the Wai-iti Dam Service zone, currently on Stage 1 restrictions, will be made on Thursday after a meeting with zone water users.

The Council is actively enforcing these limits and will issue infringement fines to anyone breaching their consent limits.

“I know some operations may be tempted to wear the fine in order to keep operating but I would urge you to consider the bigger picture and the effect your actions have on the water supply that must be sustained for our entire community.”

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne reiterated the urgency of significant water use cuts by urban businesses, the rural sector and households.

”I know this decision will have serious economic consequences for growers and other industries. We are still to reach the stage of maximum water demand as crops are harvested and hard choices will have to be made about how best to use a diminishing supply of water.” 

Richard said it was unfortunate the Waimea Community Dam was not in place yet as it would have avoided this drought having such dire consequences. 

“The economic cost of this drought will be substantial,” Richard said.  “The Council will work to see how it can support growers, businesses and their staff through these difficulties.”