11 Mar 2013

Drought starting to bite in South Island

3:55 pm on 11 March 2013

Drought is not only having severe effects in the North Island but is beginning to hit South Island regions as well.

Irrigation restrictions are in force through most of Canterbury and Southland's regional council has started to impose irrigation curbs for some rivers.

West Coast Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says that region is a week away from seeking a drought declaration.

As one of the wettest regions in the country it's rare for the Coast to go into drought. If it does apply for a drought declaration, it is understood that will be the first time under the current adverse events system.

Ms Milne said there has been no significant rain since January and the region has dried off rapidly.

Cows have been culled and stock sold early, pasture has burnt off, some winter crops have failed, much of the feed intended for winter has been fed out and supplement is being brought in.

Ms Milne says some farmers are even short of water for their animals.

Meanwhile in Southland, falling river levels have triggered the first stage of water take restrictions and more are expected this week.

The regional council's environmental management director Warren Tuckey says 30 resource consents for taking water have reached the trigger level and with no rain forecast it's likely another 12 will also have to stop taking water.

Taranaki seeks drought declaration

In the North Island, Taranaki is now lining up with Manawatu-Rangitikei to be added to the regions where Government drought declarations are in place. A request also went to the Government on Sunday night to declare a state of drought in Gisborne.

Federated Farmers' president Harvey Leach says Taranaki had been faring better than some areas but it too has dried off rapidly in the past two weeks.

He says dairy farmers are having to cut back milking to once a day and sheep and beef farmers are running out of water for stock.

Mr Leach says Taranaki regional representatives sent a formal drought declaration request to the Government on Friday and are hoping to have a response by the middle of this week.

A drought meeting is planned in Wairarapa on Tuesday.