Water rising as alert level looms

Lake Wakatipu is getting close to its ‘‘high’’ alert threshold, and more rain is forecast over...
Lake Wakatipu is getting close to its ‘‘high’’ alert threshold, and more rain is forecast over the coming days. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
Twenty years almost to the day of the worst floods in Queenstown's history, Lake Wakatipu's level is nearing its "high" alert threshold.

However, the Queenstown Lakes District Council says there is no cause for alarm.

Yesterday the lake level was 310.453m - the first alert threshold is 310.8.

The council's corporate service general manager Meaghan Miller said it was keeping a watching brief, however, even with rain forecast for much of the next week, potential flooding would likely only amount to "ponding in low-lying reserve areas with no impact on business as usual".

The level was "pretty standard" for the time of year given snow melt and spring rain, she said.

On November 17, 1999, three days of almost continuous rain caused the lake to rise above danger level. Chaos ensued.

The Otago Regional Council's "Lake Wakatipu flood hazard" brochure said the lake begins to flood through Queenstown's stormwater system at 311.3m above sea level. In the 1999 floods it rose to 312.8m above sea level.

ORC flood duty officer Ben Mackey said he had been closely monitoring Otago's lakes and rivers after the past week of heavy rain.

"Lake level predictions indicate that this weekend's forecast rainfall is not expected to cause Lakes Wanaka and Wakatipu to reach their high lake level thresholds."

ORC would continue to monitor rainfall and lake levels over the coming weeks, in co-ordination with Civil Defence and the district council.


Who will be first to take advantage and blame it on anthropogenic climate change.



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