Planning Ahead for Potential Drought Conditions


After a start to 2023 that saw severe rainfall events in many parts of the North Island, it is hard to believe that we are already starting to put our minds towards a summer of hot, dry and windy conditions. But that seems to be what the forecast for many parts of the North Island, particularly in the East, is suggesting. Here’s the NIWA seasonal climate outlook.

Currently our region’s waterways, lakes and aquifer levels are not showing any signs of concern. However, it is possible that at some point over the coming months we may be needing to keep a closer eye on them as conditions dry out and water demand increases. We got through last spring and summer without much discussion around droughts and water shortage, but that was on the back of two to three particularly dry seasons where we got extremely close to having to issue a Water Shortage Direction (Section 329 RMA – Water Shortage Direction) for some parts of the region.

This article is to give growers an early heads up/reminder that the forecast hot and dry conditions may result in some water restrictions if the regions waterways come under pressure over the coming months.

BOPRC advises that previous messaging around being efficient with water use, installing good quality water meters and associated telemetry, and keeping (and submitting) water records is still relevant. They’ve also seen an increase in water storage ponds in the last few years, which can assist with managing periods of water restrictions. It is really important that water users turn their minds to how their business will adapt during periods of reduced water availability.

As you may recall, BOPRC have previously issued Water Shortage Sitreps prior to, and throughout, drought events. BOPRC will continue to do this if the need arises over the coming months. In the meantime BOPRC encourages you and other stakeholders to keep an eye on BOPRC’s Dry weather water management webpage. Not only will all the Sitreps be accessed through the webpage, but it is also where BOPRC will show the current Water Shortage Operating Level throughout the year.

At the moment, BOPRC advises that the whole of the Bay of Plenty is operating at ‘Level 0’ i.e. no water shortage concerns. However, as we know this can change throughout the season, and may apply to the whole of the region or parts of the region (known as Focus Zones). Details of the four Water Shortage Operating Levels can be found on the webpage.

Current as of: 13/10/23