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Water demand up as dry spell bites

As we know success  in business can create its own problems and with the gloriously dry, warm weather lately, which many of us have been quietly hoping for, it also has its issues.

Our sweltering summer has parched soil, heightened fire risks and boosted demand for water to levels one long-time Auckland carrier hasn’t seen for seven years.

Predictions that the summer would bring unusually balmy conditions have been borne out by a hot, dry January and a February set to stay sunny after a much-needed patch of rain last week.

Auckland – and particularly northern areas – is experiencing an extreme deficit of soil moisture, as are parts of Northland, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taupo.

The deficit has been classed as significant for the rest of the North Island by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research.

Water carriers in the Auckland region have been busy meeting extra demand, especially in tank-dependent areas such as Whangaparaoa and Waiheke Island.

“I’ve been doing this for about 14 or 15 years and it must have been seven years ago that it was last like this,” Foley’s Water owner-operator Brian Field said.

The Auckland region could be heading towards drought conditions if the heat continued over the next two months, he said.

Auckland dam storage levels were at about three-quarters – and 3.5 per cent below average for this time of year, but extra water could be drawn from the Waikato River.

Latest figures from Watercare showed nearly three billion litres of water was used last week, compared with 3.1 billion the week before.

Farmers were looking forward to forecast rain, but whether it was enough to help reduce a high soil moisture deficit across the country remained to be seen, said Federated Farmers spokeswoman Katie Milne.

“It’s going to take a lot of rain to make a serious difference, and we’ll need a lot through autumn to set things up for winter.”

But the heat has slowed the vine-killing disease Psa-V which has ravaged kiwifruit orchards across the North Island. Kiwifruit Vine Health spokeswoman Lara Harrison said the hot weather gave vines time to recover from the disease and grow, butthis was expected to changewhen autumn arrived.

Average temperatures for much of the country for January were generally bang on average, 17.3°C (or 0.2°C higher than usual) but for Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Masterton regions, less than half of the normal rainfall was recorded.

In January Auckland had 10 per cent of its usual rain while Tauranga had 5 per cent, both marks hitting their second-lowest total for the month since records began, a pattern which was exceeded in smaller centres Te Puke, Warkworth and Whitianga, which experienced their lowest recorded rainfall levels.

About half the North Island remains under a prohibited fire season, while a total fire ban is in place in a few areas on the east coast.

National Rural Fire Authority operations manager Gary Lockyer described the season as the driest for several years, creating an elevated fire danger in many parts of the country.

What the stats show…

Rain since day 1 of summer

* Auckland 104mm – 46%  of normal
* Whakatane 83mm – 34% of normal
* Dargaville 82mm – 33% of normal
* Napier 58mm – 31% of normal
* Taupo 92mm – 38% of normal

Sunshine totals in 2013

* Auckland, 255hrs – 110% of normal
* Tauranga, 301 – 115% of normal
* Hamilton, 258 – 111% of normal
* Wellington, 263 – 106% of normal
* Christchurch, 289 – 121% of normal
* Dunedin, 237 – 131% of normal

Water situation

* 76.5%  total water storage of Auckland’s dams
* 80% average for this time of year.

* & NZHerald 


weather-nut on 14/02/2013 3:30am

That rainfall figure taken from Auckland Airport is probably a little higher than most central and northern areas of the Auckland region for the same period. 🙂

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