Media release

Media release: ORC keeping watching brief on lakes and rivers as heavy rain continues

Thursday 21 September 2023

Otago Regional Council staff are closely monitoring rainfall and the impact on lake and rivers. River levels are expected to rise, although it appears Southland has borne the brunt of the heavy rain so far.

As of 6.38pm Thursday, 21 September


Heavy rain has been falling since Wednesday night at the main divide. This water is making its way through Lakes Whakatipu, Wānaka and Hāwea. As this water makes its way down the Clutha Mata au catchment, the regional council is expecting the high and sustained flows of the Clutha River at Balclutha, reaching its first alarm level overnight on Friday, or tomorrow night. Although the event is not expected to cause issues for ORC infrastructure at this time.

“Our engineering team have spent the day preparing flood infrastructure and we have inspected and opened river mouths where required,” says ORC Duty Flood Manager Tom Dyer.

The Council is also contacting landowners in the vicinity of Balclutha tonight, communicating that sustained and high flows are likely later tomorrow.

Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous. People are advised to be aware of conditions if travel is necessary over the next 24 hours.

Metservice has issued a Heavy Rain Warning – Orange for the headwaters of the Otago lakes and rivers from 4pm until midnight on Thursday, 21 September. On top of what has already fallen, the forecast is for 60-100 mm about the main divide, and 30-60 mm within 3km farther east, with peak rates of 10 to 15 mm per hour.

Council staff will continue to actively monitor the situation overnight and if this worsens, there will be  further updates for the public.