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Irrigation restrictions and thunderstorms

Irrigation restrictions and thunderstorms

A close watch is being kept on Canterbury region’s rivers as the long dry spell continues, with irrigation restrictions on many rivers at the moment.

However, the situation was looking more optimistic for irrigators reliant upon alpine river water late this afternoon with 100 mls of rain having fallen at Arthur’s Pass in recent days. More than 11 mls fell within an hour between 3 and 4 pm at Mount Hutt. At Kimbell, South Canterbury, more than 16 mls fell in an hour.

“The forecast thunderstorms are moving north from the Mackenzie Pass through South Canterbury,” said ECan surface water quantity scientist Graeme Horrell.

The Rakaia River was boosted to 390 cubic metres per second flow at the gorge following the alpine rain, enabling ECan to lift full irrigation restrictions on all but band one irrigators.

In Mid and South Canterbury, irrigation restrictions are currently in force for many water users on the Ashburton, Temuka, Waihao, Hakataramea and Maerewhenua rivers as well as numerous drains in the Ashburton-Hinds and Orari river areas. The Opihi, Pareora and Ahuriri rivers have restrictions on a handful of users.

South and Mid Canterbury environmental protection officer for Environment Canterbury Stephen Hay says if the dry conditions are to continue for another couple of weeks, more irrigation restrictions are likely to kick in.

“It is the farmers responsibility to check with ECan about any restrictions in force,” said Stephen Hay, who praised the attitude of local farmers, who are being pro-active in keeping up to date with the latest information. Only two cases of farmers irrigating when they should not be are being investigated by ECan, in the northern part of the region.

ECan offers information through its website (www.ecan.govt.nz then click open Irrigation Restrictions bottom right hand side) or through telephone info line 083 225522. Stephen Hay says many farmers are simply calling the office to check the levels of restriction in place. Daily updates are done overnight, so restriction levels can be changed quickly. “People are more aware of the requirements of their consents,” he said.

In the northern part of Canterbury, many of the main rivers are on either partial or full restriction with the Waiau being considerably lower than normal for the time of year with some users on partial irrigation restriction. However that situation was improving late this afternoon as a result of the alpine rainfall.

Most rivers in the Selwyn/Rakaia catchment, Central Canterbury, are on full irrigation restriction with the Waipara area in North Canterbury significantly affected as well. Each area from Kaikoura to the Rakaia in the Central to northern part of the region has some rivers on full restriction.

ECan staff are making regular checks of sites, and these may step up a little if the dry weather continues.

More details of northern to central Canterbury river restrictions:
Clarence south to Conway River: All on full restriction bar three rivers.
South of the Conway to the Hurunui River: Nine on full restriction, the majority of irrigation consent bands for the Hurunui at Mandamus are on partial restrictions, a few have no restriction.

South of the Hurunui to the Ashley: the majority are on full restriction
South of the Ashley to the Waimakariri: Mixture, some full restriction, some partial, some no restriction.
South of the Waimakariri to the Halswell River: no change for some time - mainly no restriction or partial.
South of the Halswell to the Rakaia: majority full restriction but all of Rakaia (except band 1) has come off full restriction today.


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