Com­mu­nity ef­fort praised

Clutha Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MARY-JO TOHILL

Last week’s heavy rain won’t break the drought, the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil warns.

There would need to be on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies and com­mu­nity to get through it, Otago Re­gional Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Sarah Gard­ner said.

How­ever, the Otago com­mu­nity should be proud of the way it was stick­ing to­gether dur­ing th­ese ex­treme events, she said.

‘‘The Otago com­mu­nity should be praised for their ef­forts and vig­i­lance so far in pro­tect­ing peo­ple, an­i­mals and plants, and man­ag­ing their use of land and wa­ter dur­ing this drought.’’

The re­gional coun­cil had been ‘‘in­cred­i­bly im­pressed with the proac­tive com­mit­ment be­ing made to save wa­ter and change wa­ter use habits over this time’’, and en­cour­aged oth­ers to take the lead.

Drought was de­clared in Otago and South­land last Tues­day, which was promptly fol­lowed by pre­dicted heavy rain overnight Wed­nes­day.

Lawrence-based farmer and New Zealand First MP Mark Pat­ter­son said Thurs­day’s big rain was ‘‘grate­fully re­ceived’’.

‘‘We got 30ml here, so not as much as else­where but grate­fully re­ceived nonethe­less. It was get­ting very se­ri­ous. A good fol­low up will be needed now to get things back on track.’’

Drought and wa­ter con­ser­va­tion was also a topic for dis­cus­sion at a re­cent West Otago Com­mu­nity Board meet­ing at Ta­panui.

Ta­panui faced se­vere wa­ter re­stric­tions in De­cem­ber, which was a cau­tion­ary tale in wa­ter con­ser­va­tion, Clutha Dis­trict ser­vice de­liv­ery man­ager Jules Witt said.

‘‘Ta­panui showed a great re­sponse when the wa­ter re­stric­tions came into force, but it also a showed a lot wasted wa­ter. About 40 per cent of the reser­voir was lost in one day.’’

This was be­cause of peo­ple con­tin­u­ing to use wa­ter de­spite ob­vi­ous drought con­di­tions, and other is­sues in­clud­ing burst hose fit­tings dis­cov­ered dur­ing coun­cil staff vis­its to prop­er­ties.

‘‘If peo­ple aren’t vig­i­lant, you can waste a lot of wa­ter that way.’’

The reser­voir re­turned to a work­able level within days of wa­ter re­stric­tions com­ing in.

The first meet­ing with ru­ral sup­port agen­cies is sched­uled to be held in Alexan­dra next Tues­day.

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