Water rationed to satisfy Opuha irrigators

Cuts mean less water for South Canterbury rivers, domestic users and irrigators.

Some South Canterbury household water supplies will be rationed and rivers lowered to maintain water levels in the Opuha Dam.

The move has major implications for the plethora of water storage schemes being facilitated by Environment Minister Nick Smith’s appointed commissioners at Environment Canterbury.

The Opuha is touted by dairy interests and Irrigation NZ as a model for water storage. in recent weeks anglers have complained that the river fed by the dam (the Opihi) is almost permanently affected by algal bloom due to lack of flushing flows.

The Opuha Dam was facilitated with funding by Timaru financier Allan Hubbard who died recently before he could appear in court over various fraud charges.

The big problem with the lake now is lack of rainfall.

A Water Shortage Direction means that over the next 14 days -

  • Community or private drinking water supply consent holders will only be able to take 87.5% of their normal daily volume.
  • Opuha Water Ltd will be required to maintain a minimum flow in the Opihi River of six cumecs, as opposed to 8.5 cumecs.
  • Irrigators with shares in Opuha Water will only be allowed to take 75% of their normal daily volume.

If no rain replenishes the river and lake system in the next 14 days coming days, Environment Canterbury will renew the order.