Bay river levels return to normal

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Kaituna River at Bell Rd
Kaituna River at Bell Rd

After the heavy deluge of rain that pelted the region over the past few days lakes and rivers across the Bay are returning to normal.

Yesterday warnings were issues for the Kaituna, Whakatana, Waimana and Waioeka/Otara rivers. Residents of rural communities were asked to move stock to higher ground.

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.

Council had 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 regional council was 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 reached the dam early yesterday evening. While the lake was not full during the summer season, additional flow needed to be released into the river 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 yesterday 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 and users 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 was closed overnight. NZTA crew are on site and while the water level is still above road level, it is slowly receding.

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

- Bay of Plenty Times

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