East Coast drought leaves Gisborne facing water crisis

Gisborne city could face a mid-winter crisis with the prospect of water restrictions if there is no significant rain in the next few weeks.

Gisborne District Council said yesterday there were 50 days' supply left in the Mangapoike lakes at the present level of daily consumption.

Farmers in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa are already struggling to cope after receiving less than half the normal rainfall this year.

Gisborne Council acting engineering and works manager Geoff Cobb said today the situation was being closely monitored.

When 40 days' supply was left, the council would launch a media campaign to get the public to conserve water, he said.

At the 36-day point it would have to look at water restrictions and at 32 days would have to consider bringing in the Waipaoa River augmentation plant at Bushmere.

They would not do that lightly because this water was so expensive.

The important thing about the Waipaoa plant was that it could fill all the city's reservoirs overnight.

Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton has said he will visit the East Coast next week as farmers struggle to cope with the dry conditions in the region.

Drought conditions have caused a shortage of feed, so many farmers may have to get rid of stock in an attempt to preserve winter food supplies for the animals.

Charlie Pedersen from Federated Farmers says the sale of so much stock from one region would have a significant impact on the local economy as prices could bottom out if too much stock hits the market at once.

- NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB

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