Waihou River water users may face water restrictions soon, because of unusually low water levels, according to Environment Waikato.
The current level of the Waihou River (7.134 m at Te Aroha) is only 1.5 cm above the lowest recorded level of 7.12 m, which occurred in January 1995. Very low flows in the Waihou River have the potential to affect town water supplies, and can harm fish and other life in the river.
Environment Waikato has written to irrigators who take water from the lower Waihou River reminding them of the conditions on their resource consents that restrict their water usage during dry conditions.
Environment Waikato deputy Chief Executive Bob Priest says the current situation can be alleviated with the co-operation of the lower Waihou River water take consent holders. However, staff will be out in the Waihou River area ensuring that irrigators are complying with their consent conditions, and those not following the rules risk being issued with infringement notices or may face prosecution.
“If river levels continue to decline, there may be further restrictions on water use throughout the rest of the Waihou Catchment. Restrictions may include a total ban on taking water from the river and its tributaries for irrigation and other non-essential water use. Domestic and stock water supplies will not be restricted,” he said.