Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 5/05/2020 7:23 p.m.
A council duo have been out and about over the last week putting up placards and posters about the lesser-known Level Three: Water Restrictions.
“The 15mm of rain we had on Sunday has lifted river levels slightly, but that will last only a week and both our major dams are at record lows,” said Water Services Manager Andrew Venmore.
“People have rightly been occupied by the COVID-19 levels over the past six weeks, but attention needs to come back onto the water situation in Whangārei as well because that situation keeps getting worse.
Librarians Tony Randall and Melani Waanders spread the water saving message along roadsides, at supermarkets and fastfood outlets this week
“Everyone needs to be water saving, whether at work or in the home, inside or outside.”
He said the current drought is by far the worst in terms of rainfall received since Water Services records began in 1971.
“Two elements that make the current situation so severe. The first is that only 58% of the normal rainfall fell in all of 2019, which meant we went into the 2020 summer with far lower groundwater levels than usual. The second is the incredibly low rainfall we have had in 2020 so far.
By 1st May only 123mm of rain, 28% of usual rainfall for the time period had fallen at Whau Valley making it the lowest rainfall record in our history.
Since January 2019 we have had 1000mm less rain than usual, and our rivers really need more. The Hatea River, Ruakaka River and the stream at Mangapai have fallen too low at times to take any water. We have also had to limit our takes from the Ahuroa River and Poroti Stream.
“This in turn has put significant pressure on our dams and both the Whau Valley and Wilsons Dam have dropped to low levels. The Wilsons Dam is at a record low level and the Whau Valley Dam is at the lowest level since the source at Poroti was fully developed in the early 1990s.
“With winter rains hopefully just around the corner we should be able to maintain levels over the next few months. However, without significant rain over winter there is a very real danger that dam and aquifer levels will not recover before next summer. It is therefore critical that we reduce the demand on our dams as much as possible until they have fully recovered.”