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Holidaymakers urged to be vigilant about rising water levels

December 16, 2013

Holidaymakers urged to be vigilant about rising water levels

Holidaymakers in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley are being urged to beware of the potential for rising river and lake levels over the Christmas/New Year period and throughout January.

Environment Canterbury, in conjunction with Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy, is warning campers, anglers and other holidaymakers to keep any eye out for possible increases in water levels in the Waitaki Lakes and the Waitaki River system below the Benmore Dam.

Environment Canterbury spokesman Phil Lees said heavy nor-west rain along the Main Divide is a common occurrence over December and January and can result in water having to be spilled from the upper hydro lakes (Tekapo and Pukaki).

“It can be a beautiful day along the Waitaki lakes, or even in the Mackenzie Basin, but pouring with rain along the Main Divide. All that rain has to go somewhere and that leads to rising lake levels and the need for energy companies to spill water from the lakes. Water levels downstream can rise very rapidly as a result,” said Phil Lees.

Environment Canterbury’s advice to people holidaying or visiting the area over summer is to select their camping and recreational locations with care.

“Choose your sites carefully, keep an eye on the water levels while you are there and if in any doubt listen for flood warnings in local print media, broadcast over Port FM and posted on our website at www.ecan.govt.nz.

“People could be lulled into a false sense of security because water levels in Lake Tekapo are currently low but could rise quickly because of heavy rainfall, especially after Tuesday January 7 when remedial work on the Tekapo Canal begins.

The information on Environment Canterbury’s website: www.ecan.govt.nz replaces the regional council’s River Report 24-hour phone information line which is no longer in operation.

Meridian Energy spokesperson Michelle Brooker says it is possible water will need to be spilled from Lake Pukaki over the summer period.

Richard Gordon, Public Affairs Manager for Genesis Energy says that relining works on the Tekapo Canal will require a 10 week closure of the canal. While the level of Lake Tekapo will be lowered in anticipation of the canal closure, Genesis Energy expects the level will rise from natural inflows and surplus water from Lake Tekapo may be spilled into the Tekapo River during the summer months.

ENDS

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