Low Waitaki hy­dro lake lev­els to rise


De­spite the cur­rent warm weather, the Waitaki hy­dro lakes are un­likely to drop below their min­i­mum con­sented lev­els, power providers say.

They ex­pect the lakes to rise when snow in the moun­tains melts with the ar­rival of spring in a few weeks.

Sev­eral days of warm weather is forecast as the re­gion moves away from the overnight freez­ing temperatures of the past few weeks to a tem­per­ate weather sys­tem from Aus­tralia.

A Merid­ian En­ergy spokes­woman said since Fe­bru­ary, Merid­ian had recorded low in­flows to its Waitaki Hy­dro Scheme catch­ment, which meant lake lev­els were low.

Ac­cord­ing to Merid­ian En­ergy, Lake Ohau was at 519.84m, just above the min­i­mum of 519.45m, Lake Pukaki at 523.316m (518m), Lake Aviemore at 268.028m (265.5m), Lake Waitaki at 230.095 (227m), and Lake Ben­more at 361.209 (355.25m)..

Lake lev­els had been man­aged pru­dently and would be ex­tremely un­likely to breach min­i­mum con­sented lev­els, the spokes­woman said.

‘‘Small rain­fall events over the last week and a half have halted the de­cline in our hy­dro lakes.

‘‘We have seen a slight lift in lake lev­els and we are con­tin­u­ing to get small in­flows.

‘‘Typ­i­cally in spring in­flows in­crease as snow in the South­ern Alps melts and en­ters the hy­dro catch­ments.’’

Trans­power, the sys­tem op­er­a­tor which mon­i­tors the hy­dro risk level, showed the in­flows to the south­ern hy­dro lakes had shifted the level from ‘watch’ to ‘nor­mal’, the spokes­woman said.

Ge­n­e­sis En­ergy, which mea­sures the lev­els for Lake Tekapo, which feeds to the Tekapo A and Tekapo B power sta­tions, showed the lake was at 705m, above the min­i­mum level of 702.1m.

A Ge­n­e­sis spokesman said in ‘‘broad terms’’ Lake Tekapo was lower than av­er­age but he ex­pected lev­els to rise as snow melted.

‘‘There is no cause for alarm. We are well within op­er­at­ing ranges, de­spite low lev­els in the South­ern Lakes.’’

Lake Tekapo’s level had risen by about 30cm on Tues­day, he said.

The spokesman could not com­ment on the con­se­quences if the lake dropped below the min­i­mum con­sented level.

Metser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist Lisa Mur­ray said South Can­ter­bury, as well as the whole coun­try, was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a warm snap which was not un­usual for the month of Au­gust

‘‘It is not un­com­mon.’’

Waitaki’s hy­dro lakes are ex­pected to rise when spring comes.

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