Parts of Northland are facing the threat of water restrictions owing to the continuing drought:
The Northland Regional Council was poised to issue water shortage directions in 23 coastal communities.
Water and Waste Manager Ali McHugh said that meant water can only be used for “reasonable” household domestic needs and stock welfare needs.
“More than two dozen aquifers are nearing, or quickly heading toward, their lowest groundwater levels on record and this could cause problems for many of our small coastal communities,” she said.
“For those drawing water from bores in these areas, this means if they have not already, they may soon begin experiencing issues such as water becoming noticeably salty and other bore behaviour they have not encountered before.”
McHugh expected the small, shallow coastal groundwater systems will drop to significantly lower levels than would normally be seen during the next two to three months, bringing the real risk of saltwater, or saline, intrusion into freshwater systems.
“There is a real risk that there will be water that’s unsuitable for drinking – or even no water at all – as shallow bores become unable to pump water and deeper bores are impacted by saltwater moving inland,” she said.
If too much saltwater intrusion occurred, it could take many months for things to improve to a point where a bore water supply could be used again. . .
Droughts are often portrayed as a farming issue but this shows it’s a problem for towns too.
Northland’s annual rainfall is about 1,000mms of rain in lower areas and 2,000mms at higher elevations.
That is plenty of rain but, like many other areas, it doesn’t always fall where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
However, some of the excess will feed lakes and rivers which gives the potential for storage when there’s more than enough to be used when there’s too little.
Those of a dark green persuasion think rivers should flow from the source to the sea as nature intended.
But storing water when there’s too much for use in droughts has environmental, economic and social benefits.
It helps maintain minimum flows to sustain water life, provides stock water, enables irrigation and keeps the taps flowing for industrial and domestic users.