Media release

Otago river levels dropping but forecast to rise again

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Joint release from the Otago Regional Council and Dunedin City Council

ORC and DCC staff are monitoring a changeable weather event which is seeing many rivers drop after heavy rain in the past 24 hours, but more rain forecast for the region tomorrow and Thursday is set to push them up again.

ORC director engineering, hazards, and science Dr Gavin Palmer said while the prospect of further heavy rain from tomorrow evening to early Thursday afternoon meant rivers in already-saturated catchments were likely to rise, council staff would be monitoring the situation closely and would keep the public updated through Twitter and WaterInfo.

The Pomahaka River in south-west Otago is falling at Leithen Glen, but rising at Burkes Ford.

While Dunedin has received about 35 mm of rain, this rainfall was not intense enough to have a significant impact on flood flows on either the Silverstream or the Water of Leith.

Dr Palmer said an ORC staff assessment of groundwater levels in South Dunedin revealed no significant ponding.

While groundwater levels are currently very high, they were expected to drop gradually over the next 24 hours until the next heavy rain, when staff would continue their monitoring.

The Dunedin City Council is also monitoring the situation.

General manager infrastructure and networks Ruth Stokes said no issues had been reported in Dunedin. There was some surface flooding on roads during heavy rain this morning, but this was not unusual in a large downpour.

Anyone with rain-related issues is encouraged to ring the DCC on 03 477 4000.

Mrs Stokes said with the recent earthquake in North Canterbury, it was a good idea for people to think about their own emergency preparedness.

North Otago got approximately 20mm of rain and the rivers are rising but not expected to go into alarm levels. There was some minor overspill into the headwaters of the Kyeburn and Manuherikia.

Dr Palmer said a similar amount of rain for Dunedin and North Otago as fell during the past 24 hours was expected from tomorrow afternoon to Thursday morning.

While it was not yet known how intense this rainfall would be, a further 40mm-50mm of rain (forecast to be south-east turning to southerly) was likely on already saturated catchments.

More information about river levels is available at and weather information at Information from Otago Civil Defence Emergency Management is at

For more information please contact

Dr Gavin Palmer
Director engineering, hazards, and science
Ph 0800 474082 or 0274 933960

Ruth Stokes
General manager Infrastructure and Networks
Ph 03 474 3669

Communications contacts

Mark Peart
Team Leader Communications – Channels
Ph 0800 474082 or 027 5312620

Andrea Jones
Communications Team Leader
Ph 027 437 3953