Meridian matter of fact about low lake, river levels

Low lake levels throughout Otago mean electricity suppliers may face winter with below-average storage levels.

The Otago Regional Council weekly rainfall and river flow report showed ''well below normal'' levels in Lakes Wanaka, Hawea and Wakatipu. It also identified ''below normal'' or ''well below normal'' flows in the Clutha, Kawarau and Shotover Rivers.

A Meridian Energy spokeswoman said the company's Manapouri and Waitaki catchments were below average for this time of year.

''Given the current dry conditions, it's likely that we could enter winter with below-average storage levels. But our experience tells us that the probability of receiving inflows prior to winter still remains high, which could bring our storage levels back to normal,'' she said.

The spokeswoman said it had been dry in the South since late January, but such conditions were not unusual.

''Meridian has experienced these conditions in the past and we are accustomed to managing our operations accordingly,'' she said.

Lake Wanaka's level is about 276m, Lake Hawea is 342m and Lake Wakatipu 309m.

Those levels fell within the bottom 10% of monthly lake levels.

Just 11mm of rain fell in Balclutha, 9mm in Makarora and 3.5mm in Wanaka in the week ending midnight March 26.

The weekly average flow of the Clutha River was 311cumecs at Balclutha and 145cumecs at Cardrona - within the lowest third of flow in March.

Worse was the Kawarau River at Chards Rd, which had a weekly average flow of 122cumecs, and the Shotover at Peat's Hut (9cumecs), meaning both were within the lowest 10% of monthly levels.

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