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Published: 2009-02-25 00:00:00

Recent rain around the Waikato has significantly eased fears of drought in the region this summer, says Environment Waikato.

Latest information as at 23 February showed regional soil moisture at about average levels historically. Soil moisture is an important indicator as if levels drop too low this affects the ability of the soil to produce animal feed and other crops.

While January had less rain than average, falls so far this month mean February will be about average or above average in different parts of the region. The forecast is for average rainfall for the rest of the summer.

EW’s monitoring of the region’s rivers showed no concerns about low flows, so it was unlikely any restrictions would be imposed on water takes from waterways.

EW chairman Peter Buckley said the recent rain was a welcome relief for farmers.

"There had been some real concerns about a repeat of drought this summer after last year’s big dry.

"The good news is that things are looking much better after the more extensive rain this month.

"EW will continue to monitor the situation and provide advice to farmers as required.

"In the meantime, it would sensible if farmers continued to be careful with their water and feed use just in case the forecasts prove wrong."