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No early end to drought in sight

Date: 20 March, 2013

No early end to drought in sight

Recent rain has done little to ease the drought conditions gripping Northland – and there is no early end in sight, with no significant rain forecast for the rest of this month.

Alan Bee, a Hydrology Monitoring Officer for the Northland Regional Council, says an average of about 15 to 20mm rain had fallen across many parts of the region over the past week.

Actual figures varied from just 2.5mm at Marsden Pt, through to about 43mm on the Mangamuka Ranges, however, while the recent rain was welcomed by many, realistically the region still needed more than 100mm of rain over several days to make an appreciable difference to soil moisture levels and river flows.

Mr Bee says southern and western areas of the region, including a significant part of the Kaipara district, appear to be the worst affected in terms of both soil moisture (which had fallen to extreme levels) and river levels, which were dramatically lower than normal. Parts of Northland are drier than they have been for several decades.

The regional council has been working with Northland’s district councils, major industries and consented water users to keep them informed of the drought’s progress. A number of restrictions had also been imposed to try to conserve water and meet consent conditions designed to protect the environment.

Affected consent holders range from private individuals taking several thousand litres a day to some major users taking hundreds of thousands of litres, including Northland’s district councils and major industries.

Mr Bee says while weather could be unpredictable, at this stage the long range forecast was not anticipating a return to normally expected conditions until April/May.

He says a range of drought-related information, including rainfall, river levels and flows, is available from www.nrc.govt.nz/drought The website is automatically updated every two hours to provide the most up-to-date information.


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