Community effort praised
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.