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Canterbury Drought Update – August 2016

Media Release

21 September

Canterbury Drought Update – August 2016

Many Canterbury rivers and streams have started the irrigation season already on restriction as a result of low rainfall.

After a wet July, August has seen the alpine area receive lower than average rainfall pushing the monthly flows in the alpine rivers to well below their long-term averages.

Environment Canterbury Surface Water Science Manager Tim Davie said “with many rivers flowing at low flows, there are a number of rivers with some form of restriction across the region.”

“The Ahuriri River (South Canterbury) is on a full restriction, while the Rakaia, Waimakariri, Hurunui, and Rangitata have some full or partial restriction.”

“These restrictions are designed to protect ecosystems and stream-life. Environment Canterbury provides daily updates on irrigation restrictions to affected water users during the irrigation season.”

The drought report shows rainfall in North Canterbury and across Canterbury Plains (e.g. the Selwyn District) has been low. This makes three consecutive winters with very low recharge of groundwater. Likely consequences of this are:

• More springs and spring-fed streams drying up, particularly in the Christchurch and Selwyn areas;

• Surface water irrigation, particularly in the lower Canterbury Plains being very limited next summer;

• Some groundwater abstractors will have difficulties with wells either drying up or supplying low volumes

“There is still time for groundwater levels to recover at least to some degree if we receive some significant rain, but it is unlikely that they will recover to average levels.”

“We will continue to work with farmers and the rural industry, and do everything we can to help farmers get appropriate access to water leading into summer.”


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