District moves to level three water restriction
A dried-up district in Waikato is moving to a level three water restriction, and unless steady rainfall tops up the local catchment an increase to level four could be just weeks away.
The Matamata-Piako District move to level three today, meaning a district-wide sprinkler ban will be in force for all water users – Te Aroha, Matamata, Morrinsville, Te Poi, Tahuna, Waharoa and Hinuera.
Without rain to replenish water supplies, Matamata-Piako District Council’s water and wastewater manager Karl Pavlovich said council needs everyone to conserve as much water as possible, so the district can get through the coming months.
The long range forecast from NIWA indicates long periods of dry, warm weather continuing through April, with only periodic rainfall. Substantial rainfall is needed to reconsider the move to level three restrictions.
‘‘Rain is predicted, but it’s not guaranteed, so we’re taking a precautionary approach by moving to level three water restrictions,’’ Pavlovich said.
If water use continues at the current level without getting steady rainfall in the water catchment areas Pavlovich predicts the district will move to level four restrictions ‘‘in about 20 days’’.
‘‘Soil moisture is an important indicator of how dry it is and we’re nearing levels similar to last summer. That’s really dry. This is another dry summer, after a dry winter and a previously record dry summer in 2019/20.’’
The district is still reeling under the impacts of the 2019/20 summer drought. In December council introduced a level one district-wide water restriction asking residents to ‘conserve water’ and by February 2 the district moved into level two. The North Island drought was deemed the worst since 2013 and according to NIWA’s New Zealand Drought Index, the neighbouring Waikato district spent 61 consecutive days in drought.