Monday, 15 April 2013 11:14

Waikato thirsty for predicted rain

Written by 

The Waikato Regional Council says it hopes the forecast rain this week will ease pressure on low flows in the Waikato River.

"Besides being good news for farmers and others in need of rain, the wet conditions this week will hopefully be the start to a significant easing of low flow pressures," says the council's resource use group manager Chris McLay.

Councils, power companies, major water users, iwi, and health and civil defence officials have met to share information on their planning for lower flows in the Waikato River if drought conditions persist.

The parties have been developing their contingency plans to cover a range of scenarios and shared that information at a meeting convened by Waikato Reagional Council. Participants agreed to keep sharing information regularly on developments.

Under Mighty River Power's Lake Taupo resource consent, restrictions on water flowing out of the lake are imposed when its level hits 355.85m above sea level (compared to Wednesday's level 17cm higher at 356.02m above sea level).

To help slow Lake Taupo's decline to 355.85m above sea level Mighty River Power has reduced the minimum current flow from Karapiro from 148 cubic metres a second (cumecs) to 140cumecs within the process allowed by their resource consent.

But, once the 355.85m above sea level is reached, restrictions mean that the water released from the Karapiro dam must not exceed inflows into Lake Taupo and the Waikato River hydro- electricity system, putting Lower Waikato River flows back to what they would have been without hydro operations in place.

Under the restrictions, it is estimated the amount of water coming from Karapiro would be reduced from 140cumecs to between 70 cumecs and 120 cumecs. This would result in a further drop in river levels in the Lower Waikato River.

Most of the bigger water takes from the Waikato River are below Karapiro. So councils and industries using water from the river downstream of Karapiro are required to take the risk into account in their contingency planning.

It was felt last week that Lake Taupo could possibly reach the 355.85m above sea level mark by early next month if there was no significant rain before then.

"It is heartening to see the rain being forecast this week but the major water users are planning for a worst case scenario just in case," says McLay.

"Parties at the meeting are confident they had the appropriate plans in place to cope if Lake Taupo hits the 355.85m above sea level point," says McLay.

"We have all committed to working closely together and sharing information so that we are collectively well-placed to respond to any problems."

 

More like this

Processor commits to port’s Waikato hub

Open Country Dairy is the first anchor tenant in the Ports of Auckland (PoAL) regional freight hub that formally opened on April 30 at Northgate Business Park at Horotiu just north of Hamilton.

Drought bites top of the South

Farmers across the top of the South Island are pinning their hopes on forecast rain to ease a drought some say is shaping up to be the worst since 2001.

Drying out

Reports from many regions say the green grass seen on farms in January has now turned brown.

 

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Chipping in

The Hound was intrigued to read an article recently, on the Newsroom website, that shows that Education Minister Chris ‘Chippy’…

I'm alright

This old mutt has been contacted by many concerned individuals about the role the former Synlait boss John Penno is…

» Connect with Rural News