More rain needed to keep drought at bay
The recent wet weather has seen a respite to the dry in the Bay of Plenty - but not enough to lift dry weather warnings yet.
Rain recorded since the start of November has exceeded what was recorded for the whole of October and has provided some temporary respite in the soil moisture levels and low river flows across the region.
Yet, Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff monitoring the dry weather situation are realistic that further significant rain will be required to offset the long term deficits of low rainfall that have occurred.
The summer of 2019/2020 saw some of the lowest-ever recorded rainfall and stream flows in the Bay of Plenty and Regional Council is still asking users to plan their water use for this summer.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Water Shortage Event Manager Steve Pickles says the rain over the last couple of weeks has been welcomed but it's not be enough yet to replenish water tables properly and get the region through another long dry summer.
Pickles says they are still encouraging water users to think about how much water they are using, and to ensure all water is used efficiently.
“We still need commercial, horticultural and agricultural water users to start thinking about how they can manage operations with lower water use now in case water restrictions have to be implemented later this season."
In addition, urban water users are asked to consider how they can also reduce their water demand through the summer months.
“Several councils take water from streams and rivers across the Bay of Plenty, which could also be affected by low flows during a drought. Therefore this isn’t something for just our rural communities to be aware of."
During the heat of last year’s summer, Bay of Plenty Regional Council adopted the Water Shortage Standard Operating Procedure to help manage dry weather events.
Most parts of the Bay of Plenty can expect more of these long dry spells as the impacts of climate change are felt.
The procedure provides staff and water users more clarity around when a Water Shortage Direction would be issued if dry weather continues.