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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Masterton

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Playing to the conditions

Even though it seems to be raining almost every other day at the moment, the forecasts are that drizzly days could soon be a thing of the past. Maybe as soon as this week.

While this will be good news for sunseekers, beach lovers and BBQ grillers, it is not good news for our farmers. Lush, green paddocks and veggie gardens require assistance from Mother Nature. Farms of all sorts need rain, and Wairarapa is susceptible to drought.

In September, Niwa announced El Niño had officially arrived in New Zealand.

The organisation’s website has forecast a 95 per cent chance of dry conditions through the three months of summer. And possibly beyond. We can also expect strong seasonal winds, which will, in all likelihood, make things considerably worse. Temperatures are most likely to be above average in the east of both islands and likely to be near average or above average in all other regions. Wairarapa will not be alone in having to find a way through this next period.

Forecasters have said the current round of El Niño could be among the most damaging in the past 80 years, with some officials warning of extreme fire danger. Parts of New Zealand can expect extended periods of consistently high temperatures exacerbated by persistent westerly winds.

“Using the data from August, this El Niño is in with the five strongest that have occurred in the last eight decades,” Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said.

He expected a shift in the frequency and intensity of westerly winds, below-normal rainfall, and frequently warm temperatures for the east of both islands.

Carterton District Council [CDC] is not waiting for signs of drought and is warning people to prepare for water restrictions. It announced a competition where 30 community services or gold card holders will have a chance to win a free water tank to help get ahead of the game. A statement from CDC highlighted the potential threat ahead.

“Carterton primarily relies on an aquifer in the southern part of the urban area and the nearby Kaipaitangata Stream for potable water, both of which are vulnerable to dry conditions,” it said.

“Water restrictions will still be in force to ensure we meet our consent conditions with Greater Wellington Regional Council to conserve water and to allow for firefighting capabilities. The Council needs people to start conserving water now.”

It’s not like we haven’t been here before, but the massaging leaves no room to read between the lines.

CDC chief executive Geoff Hamilton urged people to start planning and he left no one out, speaking directly to households, businesses, and the wider community to get into the habit of practising water conservation.

Along with water shortages, the risk of fires in the tinder dry conditions through to February and March of next year is high. A small ember caught in the wind could start something seriously difficult to put out.

In addition to using storage tanks, there are plenty of other things households can do ahead of time to help save water. Fixing leaks, installing low-flow showerheads and taps, reducing lawn irrigation, and being careful of domestic water use in kitchens and laundries will all make a difference on a collective scale.

A full list of tips to help reduce wasteful water usage is at https://smartwateronline.com/news/15-water-saving-tips-for-homeowners-in-new-zealand.

No excuses.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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