Rain boosts lake levels

The weekend's heavy downpour in the hydro-lakes area has increased the power industry's ‘‘comfort'' levels, but commentators say the country is not yet out of the woods.

All South Island lakes benefited from significant in-flows over the weekend, with overall storage increasing 19% in seven days.

The seven-day inflows as a percent of average were 146% for the South Island, with the Waiau group of lakes - Te Anau and Manapouri - increasing 180% in the past seven days.
Yesterday, Lake Pukaki was sitting at 73% of average, Lake Tekapo at 64%, Lake Hawea 63%, Te Anau 83% and Lake Manapouri 74%.

Wholesale market operator M-Co senior analyst Ashley Milkop said the rainfall showed just how quickly the hydro-lake situation could change, with the inflows putting the lakes well above average for this time of year.

Usually, inflows dropped off during late summer, only picking up again in August through to December, he said. The South Island had been following the pattern with inflows below average from January 24 to February 23.

However, the increase in lake levels was not completely unprecedented, Mr Milkop said.

‘‘We're not out of the woods yet, but we are in a more comfortable situation.

‘‘As long as we continue to get a reasonably constant pattern of inflows, it will sustain the averages sufficiently to keep us out of the woods.''

Meridian Energy spokeswoman Claire Shaw said lake levels were now going in the right direction, but it was difficult to say what the future held.

‘‘We're monitoring closely any rainfall. It increases our comfort levels.''

Contact Energy spokeswoman Anne-Marie Shepherd said the Hawea lakes catchment had risen from 69% of mean to 72% yesterday.

‘‘It is always positive to see the rain, but in the scheme of things, it is not that significant. It's a normal weather event.''

MetService was predicting a few showers later this week and during the weekend, but nothing as significant, in the short term, as the amount at the weekend.

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