ORC warns to conserve water

Day one of summer has finally arrived, and to mark the occasion, the Otago Regional Council has issued a warning for people across the region to conserve water.

ORC regulatory general manager Richard Saunders said central and western parts of the lower South Island would experience a La Nina summer this year, meaning drier conditions and a higher risk of drought than usual.

He said people would need to be responsible about their water use and the ORC was encouraging irrigators and other water users to be mindful of the summer conditions.

"Dry weather means less water in rivers and races, so anyone taking water needs to be mindful of their consent conditions and responsibilities, and to actively monitor how much water they are taking.

"Depending on the impact of La Nina, that could become important for avoiding restrictions on water takes in the coming months.

"Irrigators have worked together to share available water during low flow events in the past, and we would hope to see that repeated over this summer if waterways start to run low.’’

Niwa’s latest weather outlook for December 2020 to February 2021, shows Southland and Otago temperatures are likely to be above average; rainfall totals are equally likely to be near or below average (below normal, particularly in East Otago); and soil moisture levels and river flows are about equally likely to be near or below normal.

Niwa National Climate Centre meteorologist Ben Noll said the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) was active over Africa and the Indian Ocean during November, with low frequency forcing over the Maritime Continent caused by the ongoing La Nina.

‘‘During early December, the MJO is expected to push eastward from the eastern Indian Ocean into the Maritime Continent and West Pacific in phases 3-4-5.

‘‘Historically, these phases have been associated with drier-than-normal conditions across the country, especially in the south and west of the South Island.’’



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