Predicted heavy rain from tomorrow is raising concerns about
possible flooding of Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka.
Both lakes are already about a metre above normal levels
because of heavy rain at New Year.
While levels are dropping, Queenstown Lakes District Council
emergency management officer Jon Mitchell says more heavy or
prolonged rain could create problems for low-lying
The level of Lake Wakatipu yesterday was 310.5m above sea
level and is considered high at 310.8, when it reaches the
top of beaches.
Flooding can occur in Queenstown at 311.3m but the serious
flooding in Queenstown in 1999 occurred when the level was
Lake Wanaka was at 278.3m yesterday. Flooding starts at 280m.
Mr Mitchell said, it was ''business as usual''. The council
would not take action ''unless the situation looks likely to
be changing for the worse''.
Any flood warnings would be issued by the Otago Regional
The district council would then call together emergency
services and others to ensure everyone was working as a team.
''At the moment the forecast is only for possible heavy rain.
''We would wait and see what is being delivered, but it is
certainly better to be ahead of the game rather than wait
until there's water in the streets.''
Businesses in low-lying areas have plans to remove stock and
equipment if necessary and sandbags would be provided by the
council in some circumstances.
''As it gets higher the water tends to come in through drains
so sandbags are only useful for a low-level event.''
Mr Mitchell said the problem of higher lake levels could be
compounded by wind creating waves and washing debris ashore.
Southerlies or southwesterlies affected Queenstown and
westerlies affected Wanaka.
Mr Mitchell said the heavy rain was predicted to fall for a
short time but if it lasted longer or was more intense ''then
there could be some issues''.
MetService spokesman Ramon Oosterkamp said an active front
would move on to the South Island tomorrow, bringing heavy
rain in the west, as well as gale or severe gale northwest
winds in the east.
''The western and alpine areas of the South Island may see
another period of heavy rain, which may pose problems to
those areas affected by the wet weather of last week,'' he
Contact Energy hydro generation manager Graham Quinn said the
Clutha river flow was roughly twice the average for this time
of year and while the level was relatively high, sediment was
being ''flushed'' from Lake Roxburgh, moving it further
downstream to alleviate the risk of flooding in Alexandra.
The flushing operation began on Friday and would continue
while flows were high. If the predicted rain upstream
eventuated, the dam would be forced to spill anyway, he said,
as there was not much head room in the lakes behind Contact's