Water management

Summer 2001 drought

In 2001, a one-in-24 year drought resulted in the Waimea River drying up in parts of the lower reaches and seawater incursions affecting some TDC water supply bores and a number of irrigation bores near the Delta Zone of the Waimea Plains.

This led to severe water restrictions, millions in lost horticultural product, and the decommissioning of some bores. In seven of the last 10 years, water rationing and restrictions have been required to manage the water resource while a more sustainable approach was being developed. To understand the impact of a serious drought, read the full story about the 2001 drought, the ‘Big Dry.’

Updated water take rules

In 2015, the Council introduced new ‘water-take’ rules intended to protect the natural values of the Waimea River, provide a more appropriate 'low flows' and allocation of water that meets national guidelines for freshwater management. The new rules, which came into effect in November 2019, introduced a minimum flow for the river to prevent it from drying up completely in times of drought. Thankfully, the Waimea Community Dam will ensure that the Lee, Waimea, and Wairoa River system will be kept flowing.

Water allocations and permits

Water permits have been reassessed to achieve an overall reduction in the rural water take. Rural businesses should read about water permits in more detail on Waimea Irrigators Ltd's website where they go into the issue of the new classes of TRMP water permits for rural businesses and the Water Supply Agreements that are registered through WIL for permits affiliated to the Waimea Dam.