Water restrictions are moving to Stage 3 and expanding across the Tasman district from February 4, as the dry weather conditions continue and water flows run very low.

“Conditions are continuing to get worse with very low soil moisture, dropping river and groundwater levels and no meaningful rain in sight,” Tasman District Council’s Dry Weather Taskforce Convener Dennis Bush-King said. “River water temperatures might be good for swimmers but not for fish and with the heat, evapotranspiration levels are high.”

Dennis said that the Waimea River at Appleby is at 820 l/sec today which is just above the new minimum flow of 800 l/sec.

“Given these levels have been reached a lot earlier than in past years, and we are still only part way through the critical water demand period, the situation is serious and the Council, growers and residents need to seriously consider what the likely position will be in two to four weeks’ time without any rain. Water conservation is essential but that may not be enough to avoid more drastic cuts, and even prohibitions against using water except under strict conditions.”

Consent holder restrictions

The water restrictions are:

  • A cease take direction continues in place for users in the Moutere Surface Water zone.
  • Stage 3 restrictions, a cut of 50% in permitted allocations, will apply in the Upper Catchment, Reservoir, Waimea West, Delta, Upper Confined Aquifer, and Golden Hills zones will apply from Monday 4 Feb 2019.
  • Stage 2 restrictions, a 35% cut, will apply in the Lower Confined, Hope Gravels, and Motupiko zones from Monday 4 February 2019
  • Stage 1 restrictions, a 20% cut in permitted allocations, will apply in the Wangapeka, Tapawera, Genrae, Wai-iti, and Wai-iti Dam Service zones, and continue in the Moutere western Groundwater zone from Monday 4 February 2019
  • Water restrictions are also in place under the terms of the consents in Takaka, Rainy, and Riuwaka water management zones.

Dennis said that while the Kainui Dam was 80% full, at the current rate of release (if continuous) into the Wai-iti River, there is only about 25 days of supply left so the Council is bringing in restrictions to prolong the supply.

Hosing ban and restrictions for urban users

A hosing prohibition is now in place in Richmond, Mapua – Ruby Bay, Hope, Brightwater, Wakefield and Tapawera has now been added. Similar restrictions apply in the rural water supply schemes of 88 Valley, Redwood valley, and Dovedale. 

“Residents will have to use watering cans or buckets if they want to water their gardens – they will be surprised by how much water they can reuse from putting a bucket in the shower or catching water from the washing machine.”

Washing cars and any unnecessary use of water should also not happen. We are asking businesses to think about how they can conserve water in their operations.

Reduce water use now

Dennis said everybody can help by not using water if they don’t have to and where they do, to use it wisely. “This includes irrigating in the evening and at night when the water doesn’t evaporate as fast, using water conservation measures in the home and place of work.  Voluntary measures are always a great help at times like this.”

“We have been involved in instances where overtakes and misuse of water have occurred and taken appropriate action.  If we have to people will receive infringement fines or more serious enforcement interventions, but we would prefer the community work together to get through what may be a very difficult water supply situation.”

Dennis said that the Waimea Community Dam will avoid these restrictions in most years noting that those water permit holders who elect not to be shareholders over the transition period of the dam being constructed would be under restrictions of 70% reduction if the Waimea River drops to 800 l/sec at Appleby. Once the dam is complete non shareholders will have a 50 % restrictions at 2300 l/s (unmodified flow) at the Wairoa Gorge and will be required to cease take at 2050 l/sec and will be prevented from using water until river flows return to more than 6000 litres per second.

Total fire ban in Tasman

In addition there is also a total fire ban in the Tasman region, with all council-owned forests closed due to the very high fire risk. These areas include Tunnicliff, Kingsland and the Richmond Hills. Moturoa / Rabbit Island’s internal and perimeter tracks are closed, as well as Rough Island, but Ken Beck Drive remains open to the public for beach access and Tasman's Great Taste Trail stays open too.