Low rainfall throughout the Kaipara region this winter has resulted in the Kaipara District Council asking residents to start thinking about water conservation earlier than usual.
Some areas have had 500mls less rainfall this year than in the same period last year.
The small amount of rain has resulted in the lowering ground water levels and early predictions are for continued lower than average rainfall for the early part of the summer.
A Kaipara District Council spokesman said that this may result in a repeat of water shortage issues the Mangawhai area experienced last summer.
"With summer approaching, this is a reminder to take extra care not to waste water in the hot, probably dry, months ahead.
"Low water levels are an issue that the region faces every summer, and to get people thinking about water conservation now can help people be prepared for the summer months.
"While there have been wet weather days, the ground water levels are quite low at the moment."
Northland Regional Council (NRC) Natural Resources monitoring manager Jason Donaghy said it's been quite a prolonged dry period in the Kaipara district, like other parts of Northland.
"We've had several months of slightly below rainfall. For example, the Hakaru area is carrying about a 450 millimetre rainfall deficit over the past 12 months, which is 28 per cent below the expected average rainfall."
However, Donaghy said it doesn't necessary mean we'll experience a drought. "A cyclone could come along or we could have a month of wet weather, which would instantly resolve the issue.
"So we're not saying a drought is guaranteed, basically what we're saying is we're potentially more vulnerable to drought and it is important that people are aware of this and not wasting water."
Furthermore, the Northland Regional Council is predicting lower than average rainfall for early summer 2019/2020.
"On rural properties, people are also urged to consider how they manage, use and save water. For those on tanks, water carriers in Kaipara are covered under our drought management plan, so when water levels drop, people may not be able to get water delivered," said the KDC spokesman.
For more information about water conservation, and some handy tips and tricks to get a head start on the dry summer months, go to www.bewaterwise.org.nz.
If you do need to have water delivered the Northland District Health Board recommends using a registered water carriers to ensure the water is not contaminated. A list of registered carriers is on the Northland District Health Board website: drinkingwater.esr.cri.nz
Kaipara rainfall figures:
• The Hakaru area near Mangawhai is carrying about a 450mm rainfall deficit over the past 12 months, which is 28 per cent below the expected average rainfall.
• The Dargaville area has a rainfall deficit of around 135mm over the previous 12 months, which is 12 per cent below the average rainfall.
• The Ruawai area has a rainfall deficit of around 180 mm over the previous 12 months, which is 17 per cent below the average rainfall.
• The Tutamoe Ranges have a rainfall deficit of around 390 mm over the previous 12 months, which is 16 per cent below the average rainfall.
Low voter turnout in the Kaipara
Voter returns for the Kaipara region are lower than at the last election.
Last Wednesday just 17.7 per cent of people had voted, which was down from 21.84 per cent in 2016.
However, just one week later and 32.5 per cent of people had voted, although this too was down from 35.3 per cent in 2016.
Kaipara District Council Governance, Strategy and Democracy general manager Jason Marris said the turn out isn't as high as they'd like.
"So we're about 4 per cent lower than we have been in the previous election. Ideally we'd like to have a higher turnout."
Marris encourages people to still go out and vote.
"We are open at both our offices in Dargaville and Mangawhai from 9am-12pm and we are happy to accept votes and special votes and until we close at midday on the dot."
Marris, however, discourages people from posting in their votes, "as it's unlikely to arrive to us in time".
As for online voting being made an option in the future, Marris isn't ruling it out.
"Local and central government need to look at working together to find a way to make it easier for people to vote in a best way that suits them."
Election day is on Saturday October 12 and preliminary election results for Kaipara District Council will be available on their website from about 10am on Sunday October 13. You can find them at www.kaipara.govt.nz/council/local-elections.
School teacher publishes first novel
Dargaville High School teacher Jody Reynolds has taken the plunge and published his first novel - aptly titled Taking the Plunge.
The book, set in central Otago, is about love, lust and snowboarding - which he describes as a tragicomic tale of love.
But don't confuse it with a Mills and Boon novel - Reynolds says this is more comedy than romance with a bit of dark humour thrown in as well.
"I had been thinking about writing a novel for 20 years and I just came to the point where I decided to stop thinking about it and to actually just put some time aside and do it."
Reynolds said he had written some short stories a few years ago and published them as e-books on Amazon and the idea for this particular book came from that.
"This is about a woman who meets up with a friend and they're quite different, the friend discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her and she suggests she sets fire to her husband's clothes in the backyard.
"The story follows on from that and what if she did take that advice on board, what would actually happen, and she ends up chasing after a man that she ends up falling for and it follows that journey.
"Most readers are women and I wanted to write something right from the outset that would interest them, so it was very intentional my decision to write this."
Reynolds said he has never experienced anything like that in his own life, "there may be some autobiographical parts to the story, but not that part" (referring to the burning of clothes).
He said he chose this particular story because it was the most polished of his short stories and he enjoyed writing it.
He started drafting in May 2017. He said it took him nine months to write the first draft, but then the editing process took a bit longer than expected, "I spent about a year just doing that".
"A lot of the ideas have come from location base, I use to live in Cromwell [where the story is set] and some of the characters are loosely based off some of the characters I've met in the past."
The official book launch for Jody's first novel will be held at the Whangārei Library on Saturday at 10.30am.
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