Media release

Media release: Dry conditions in Otago weekly update

Friday 3 March 2023

Conditions continue to be dry across the region, and unseasonably dry in South Otago.

Cattle in dry Otago landscape


Rivers across Otago are returning to low flows after a brief reprieve with the rainfall last week.

Unfortunately, there has not been a period of follow up rain.

ORC’s Acting General Manager Regulatory Joanna Gilroy says:

“The Waiwera is still in low flow, as are rivers in West and South Otago areas such as the Pomahaka River at Burkes Ford and the Waitahuna and Taieri are trending back down.”

“We’re letting consent holders know about the new alert system and remain in contact with those who have conditions on their consents about reducing use in times of low flows. We thank them for their efforts and encourage all water users across the region to continue to use water efficiently”

“We encourage catchment groups to continue their great efforts to share water efficiently. Catchment groups who experience traditional low flows every year are already very good at this, and we praise their efforts.”

Compliance action has been taken where appropriate to reinforce rules around water takes.

There are water restrictions in Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago District Councils and Dunedin City. Residents in urban areas, or on water schemes are encouraged to conserve water in line with these restrictions.

The weather situation appears to be changing, moving away from Northerly to West/Southwest winds which is likely to bring more rain to Otago. The La Nina system may lose its grip in the next few weeks.

ORC continues to monitor the situation and send out regular updates each week, posted to our website and Facebook page.

  • Good practice tips for conserving water during dry conditions in Otago:
  • Check for leaks around stockwater and irrigation infrastructure
  • Irrigate at times when the water is more likely to be absorbed
  • Apply irrigation so that it is retained in the pasture or crop root zone - for more tips, check this Irrigation NZ factsheet

If you are unsure if your irrigator is applying the right amount of water, our Catchment Advisors can help you carry out a bucket test.

Please contact to find out more.

  • Minimise water use on gardens and lawns
  • Don’t leave water running unnecessarily
  • Showers are more water-efficient than baths
  • Avoid washing vehicles and boats

Visit our new Environmental Data Portal for the latest water flow levels

Our next update will be sent out Friday 10 March if these conditions persist.

Questions or concerns about the current dry period?