Dry conditions mean low lake levels
Monday, 15 December 2014 10:00 a.m.
A very dry season to date means the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has issued a low lake level notification as early as December.
Due to the low rainfall levels being experienced throughout the Bay of Plenty, lakes in the Rotorua region are at their lowest for several seasons and are nearing minimum operating conditions. This means that the Okere Gates will be operating on their minimum settings in an effort to hold Rotoiti lake levels. The Ōhau Channel stop logs, which have been in place since November 2013, are also aiding in the effort to keep lake levels within the desired zone.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Principal Engineering Surveyor, Graeme O’Rourke, said that it was early to be in this position.
“Previously, it hasn’t been until mid to late summer when we have had to notify the public that lake levels are low. While the current rain is very welcome, it will take a considerable amount of rainfall over a reasonable period of time to get the lake levels back to normal. It looks like this is the start of the predicted dry period as El Nino takes hold through the summer,” Mr O’Rourke said.
The low levels in Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti can occasionally affect navigation and access to jetties in some locations with the lake margins levels up to 10cm below their usual shoreline. It can also impact on lake temperatures as the weather warms and algal growth can increase.
“Water quality is a priority for us and we do our best to keep the lakes at a healthy level as required by our consent conditions. But until we have a significant amount of rain, the lake levels will remain low and Council will continue to monitor the situation,” Mr O’Rourke said.