14 Mar 2013

Weekend rain for drought affected areas

9:17 pm on 14 March 2013

Rain is forecast this weekend for drought-stricken areas.

MetService is predicting what it describes as a good chance for decent rainfall over most parts of the country by Sunday afternoon.

Five regions of the North Island have been declared in a state of drought, while a decision is pending on another five.

MetService says the remains of Cyclone Sandra will combine with a low pressure system in the Tasman Sea, but it is not yet clear how much rain this will create.

It says the heaviest rain will fall on the West Coast of the South Island, with more modest amounts likely over the North Island.

MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett says the expected rainfall will not be enough to make up the large deficits in many places but will be a good step in the right direction.

Southland river levels drop

River water levels in Southland are also dropping quickly as dry weather continues.

Some properties and businesses had to stop taking water after streams and rivers fell below resource consent limits earlier this week.

Southland regional council says the Waikaia River has fallen in the last two days to be classified at severe dryness only normally seen every 10 to 25 years, alongside the Upper Aparima and its Hamilton Burn tributary.

The council says those catchments will reach extremely low levels by next week unless there is rain.

The council says its staff have begun receiving complaints from the public about irrigators operating but checks have confirmed water take consents are being respected.

The council says it will decide whether to convene Southland's water shortage response group on Monday, after seeing if the region receives forecast rain over the weekend.