Dry weather conditions are putting Bay of Plenty Regional Council waterways under unusual pressure. The council says it is putting extra preparations in place to ensure the region’s waterways are well cared for if this summer’s dry weather continues.
The council’s regulatory services general manager Sarah Omundsen says rules and consent conditions are in place to protect the base flows that keep local waterways healthy. But soil moisture levels are getting very low and some of the region’s rivers and streams, especially in the western Bay of Plenty, have come close to record low flows in recent weeks.
“We haven’t reached the threshold for extra water restrictions yet, but we’re getting close and making preparations to act if it’s needed. We’ve had small amounts of rain recently but need significantly more to really make a difference.”
At an extraordinary Regional Council meeting this month, Omundsen told councillors that staff have increased their water and compliance monitoring efforts in response to the prolonged dry spell.
Staff have also been meeting weekly with the Bay of Plenty Primary Sector Co-ordination Group, which includes agencies such as Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Rural Support Trust, Fonterra, and NZ Kiwifruit Growers, to ensure a coordinated response to the effects of the current prolonged period of low rainfall for the region.