Dry Conditions Easing
Rainfall during the past week has eased Southland’s dry conditions, however more is required to bring river flows up to their normal flow for this time of year and to avoid cut-offs for some consent holders.
Environment Southland's rain gauge network recorded rainfall totals during the past seven days ranging from 6 mm at Balfour to 69.5 mm at Pourakino. The highest rainfall was recorded in coastal areas and this has seen catchments in western areas return to normal river flows for this time of year.
Northern Southland (Mandeville, Lumsden, Balfour) has received the least rainfall.
Rivers that remain close to their previous low levels are Mokoreta and the Upper Mataura at Parawa.
The Metservice is forecasting rain for late Thursday.
The number of consent holders who have had to suspend their water takes or discharges, currently stand at 24. However, if flows continue to drop today on the Mataura River as predicted, they will reach the cut-off of 11 cumecs and the number of consent holders affected could return to the pre-Easter total of 40.
Groundwater levels were still dropping for the terraced aquifers, but all of the riparian and lowland aquifers are steady or recovering, though still low for April.
There has been a slight increase in soil moisture of about two to three percent across the region, but on average this was still 30% below mean April soil moisture levels. There is enough moisture for grass to continue growing, but without significant rainfall in the next while, this pattern will continue.
Environment Southland Director of Environmental Management Warren Tuckey said while farmers were in need of more rain, they were coping.
The latest map of the river low flow status (attached) is similar to what it was at 5 April with Mokoreta, Lumsden, Mandeville and Balfour, the most affected.