Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


State of Canterbury's Water

State of Canterbury's Water

Environment Canterbury (ECan) says that regional groundwater levels and surface flows are likely to become critical for some users later in the irrigation season, which could lead to restrictions based on minimum flows and water depth.

An analysis of Canterbury’s water resources for December 2008 shows that although recent rainfall has alleviated dry soil conditions, it is unlikely to arrest the declining state of the groundwater and surface water resources.

Rainfall for October was at 70 percent of the long-term average across the region. November rainfall had record low totals at some recording sites with only one quarter of the long-term monthly average having fallen that month. However, many areas have received more than their average rainfall for December.

Selected foothill rivers and streams reflect these patterns, with flows below average for October, and less than half of the long-term monthly average for November. The significant rainfall in mid-December has raised flows in most rivers although the large alpine rivers were flowing at slightly above average levels for October and November.

When measured prior to the December rainfall, groundwater levels were rapidly declining, especially in shallow and moderate depth wells. Many deep wells exhibit groundwater at very low levels, similar to those experienced in the 2005-6 summer.

Soil moisture levels have now recovered to mean or above mean levels except in the northern part of Canterbury.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

General state of groundwater

An analysis of the groundwater levels across the region indicates that 60 percent of the moderate to deep monitoring wells (more than 30 metres deep) exhibit below average groundwater levels. Similarly, 60 percent of the region’s shallow monitoring wells (less than 30 metres deep) exhibit below average groundwater levels.

Regional detail

North Canterbury

Kaikoura and Waipara areas are generally recording average groundwater levels but showing rapid seasonal decline.

Most wells in the Ashley–Waimakariri zone also display average to above average levels of groundwater but exhibit similar seasonal trends to those in Waipara.


Christchurch-West Melton monitoring wells show groundwater levels above those at which restrictions are triggered to be much higher than at this time last year.

In the Christchurch area, most wells are exhibiting groundwater levels to be at or above average.

In the Central Plains, most shallow and some moderate to deep wells are still exhibiting above average levels. Some deep wells are exhibiting groundwater levels below average and in some cases, below those at this time last year. In almost all wells, the decline of groundwater levels is rapid.

In the Ashburton-Rakaia zone, almost all wells indicate groundwater measurements at or below average levels; two deep wells display very low levels.

South Canterbury

In the Mayfield-Hinds-Valetta zone, almost all groundwater levels are at or below average levels and declining rapidly.

In the Orari zone, most of the monitoring wells are at average levels or below with some deeper wells showing low levels.

In the Timaru – Pareora – Waitaki zone, many monitoring wells are showing average or below groundwater levels with the remainder showing levels well below average.


The outlook for groundwater within deep strata in the Central Plains and Chertsey areas is for continued declines to record low levels. Groundwater in areas receiving benefit of localised alpine river recharge is likely to remain at average to below average levels.

For information contact Adam Martin, ECan Surface Water Scientist, 03 372 7350;

Howard Williams, ECan Groundwater Scientist, 03 372 7175.

Groundwater levels can be checked on the Environment Canterbury website:


© Scoop Media

World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.