[28 January/Stuff]

Record-high temperatures could see water restrictions introduced in Marlborough in the near future. Data indicates that minimum flow rates for the Rai, Waihopai and Wairau Rivers’ are rapidly being approached and surface water “takes” were expected to be halted in early February. Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said it was trying to “forward forecast” on the current rate of flow decline, but it was difficult to be precise. The restrictions when introduced were expected to mainly impact irrigation users, but would include some industrial business. During the last significant drought in the 2014/2015 season, the Wairau River was unavailable for water takes approximately 40 days for some of February and most of March. A Niwa report released in November revealed parts of Marlborough were up to 30 millimetres “drier than normal”. The Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme availability wasn’t affected at this stage, but would be shut off at the same time as the other Wairau Class B takes according to spokesperson. Mr Wadsworth said Blenheim’s aquifer levels remained healthy at this stage of the season, especially at Rarangi, the Southern Valleys and Woodbourne adding ┬áthere is no reason for concern yet in terms of very low levels or high salinity.