Opuha Water will turn off the taps to irrigators tomorrow as drought conditions bite deeper in South Canterbury.

The Opuha Dam, near Fairlie, serves 250 farmer-shareholders, who have 16,000ha under irrigation.

"We have reached the bottom of the bucket," Opuha Water chief executive Tony McCormick said in circular to members. By Wednesday the lake will be at 371m with a little under 1.5 per cent storage remaining, McCormick said.

As part of an agreement to reduce the minimum Opihi river flows in early February, Opuha Water will cease irrigation and the last remaining storage will be used to try and keep the river flowing for the next 10 to 12 days, he said.


The lake level is falling at just over half a per cent a day.

"There have been several small rain events in the area over the last fortnight but they have had very little effect on inflows to the dam and in the catchment generally," McCormick said.

On February 12, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy officially declared the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as a "medium-scale adverse event".

The declaration covered parts of Otago, Canterbury and the Marlborough District and enabled extra government funding to be made available to Rural Support Trusts who work closely with farmers, providing support and guidance.

The Government is also keeping a very close eye on Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay which are also suffering from very dry conditions.