19 February 2016

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council continues to monitor the lakes and rivers in the region but most flows are returning to normal as rain eases.

Earlier today, warnings were issued for the Kaituna, Whakatāne, Waimana and Waioeka/Otara Rivers asking residents of rural communities to move stock to higher ground. Council has also been working closely with TrustPower to manage rising lake levels behind the Matahina Dam.

Principal Engineering Hydrologist and Duty Flood Manager, Mark James, said that the Council is continuing to monitor the situation but it looked like most of the activity has now passed.

“The heavy rain warning has been lifted and the rivers and lakes are coming down. We would still advise care, particularly if the rain defies forecasts and starts again.

But it certainly looks like the worst has passed,” Mr James said.

Matahina Dam levels rose overnight and peak flows are reaching the Dam early this evening. While the lake was not full during the summer season, additional flow needed to be released into the River today to provide capacity within the dam to adsorb peak flood flows. There is a warning system in place so that when the spillway needs to be opened, email and text notifications are sent to residents and users of the river.

“We started pre-emptive releases at 11am this morning to manage the large flow into the dam. The Council works very closely with TrustPower during these events and we have policies and procedures in place to keep residents informed and manage environmental impacts.

“Peak flows are now reaching the dam from the upper catchment so TrustPower will manage outflows from the Dam to balance these and gradually fill the lake. This will be monitored overnight and we expect that outflows will be steadily reduced during the next few days as flood flow and volume is buffered in the lake,” Mr James said.

The water level in Waimana Gorge over-topped the road and the gorge road is now closed. The river level continues to rise but is likely to peak in the next few hours then decline. NZTA and their contractors are on-site and monitoring the situation.

The Okere Gates were also opened to maintain Lake Rotoiti levels  but flows in the Kaituna River remained sustainable for rafting.