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Waikato rivers flood risk eases faster than expected

The flood risk in the Waipa and Lower Waikato rivers has eased overnight after peak river levels came in lower than expected.

Yesterday, Waikato Regional Council warned there was a risk of a once-in-20 years flood event in those waterways, and in west coast catchments, following heavy rain at the weekend and over the course of Monday.

But peak flows in the upper Waipa catchment – around Otorohanga and Te Kuiti – turned out to be less than anticipated last night, meaning less risk of flooding of the Waipa and Lower Waikato catchments as the peak flows move downstream. River levels in west coast catchments have been receding as well. No more significant rainfall is expected this week. So the flood risk forecast has now been lowered to potentially a once-in-five years event.

“This is good news for farmers and residents alongside the Waipa and Lower Waikato rivers, and those living in the west coast catchments,” said duty emergency management officer Greg Ryan.

“However, these rivers will still be swollen over the next few days and people need to exercise caution around them.

“Farmers are advised to continue to monitor water levels and move stock to higher ground if necessary. There could also be inundation of flood plains beside rivers and surface water generally that people need to take into account when travelling.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and update our advice as necessary,” said Mr Ryan.

In Hamilton, residents can expect to see high Waikato River levels in the city ease today as Mighty River Power scales back releases of water from Lake Karapiro. The company yesterday released extra water from the lake to build up storage capacity there in case this was needed to help manage the peak flows coming down the Waipa in coming days. This extra release has now been stopped to help ease pressures on the Lower Waikato as the Waipa peak moves through.

Around Pirognia, the 37 continuous hours of rain flooded some fields and created other minor surface flooding.  However, much of that receded very rapidly yesterday afternoon.  The squally heavy falls that came through after sunset last night did not cause widespread additional problems..



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