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27 January 2020

Extremely low river levels in the Waingawa River have forced Masterton District Council (MDC) to introduce a total watering ban in Masterton from Tuesday 28 January until significant rainfall occurs, in line with restrictions throughout the region.

Carterton and Martinborough also have a total watering bans.

Water flows in the Waingawa river have dropped below 1,100 l/s, triggering a total watering prohibition in Masterton for the first time in more than 10 years, MDC’s Manager Assets and Operations David Hopman said.

“This is not a step we take lightly, but we must take action to protect the health of the Waingawa River, the source of Masterton’s drinking water.

“We fully appreciate the impact this could have on gardens, and as soon as we get some rain to improve water flows sufficiently, we will ease restrictions.”

Current weather forecasts indicate the current hot, dry conditions are set to continue for some days. Some rain is forecast for next week, though this may not be a significant amount.

Water conservation by gardeners can make a difference to the Waingawa River, Mr Hopman said.

“Whatever water doesn’t go on to gardens is water that can stay in the river,” he said.

For the duration of the ban, the council will cease watering gardens and sports grounds where town supply water is used.

“We appreciate the total ban on water will affect a lot of people, but the state of the Waingawa River is obvious to anyone who sees it,” Mr Hopman said.  “Like a lot of people in the community, we are hoping for rain to alleviate the situation soon.”