Media release

Media release: ORC urges care around lakes and rivers leading into weekend

Wednesday 20 September 2023

With a heavy rain warning issued for Southern Lakes headwaters over Thursday and Friday, we are urging residents and visitors across the region to take care in and around waterways.

“Streams, rivers and lakes can rise very quickly – and its always better to be prepared, even if flooding does not eventuate,” says ORC’s Duty Flood Manager Tom Dyer.

Metservice had issued a heavy rain warning for Southern Lakes headwaters, from 1am Thursday to 2am Friday. Expect 200mm to 350mm about the main divide, and 100mm to 150mm within
30 km farther east. Peak rates are estimated of 15mm to 25mm per hour, especially during thunderstorms.

This amount of rain is within warning criteria. However, the upper lakes catchments are among the areas ORC staff will keep a close eye on over the next few days, Mr Dyer says.

A heavy rain watch is also in place for the wider Otago region, as forecast totals approach warning criteria. Initially the rain will be in a north-westerly flow with heavier falls near the main divide, but widespread southerly rain is expected to spread north from late Thursday.

“River flows and lake levels are relatively low and have capacity around the region at the moment, however with this forecast we expect river flows and lake levels will rise and approach early flood warning levels, especially in the upper lakes catchments.”

Further updates will be issued if required.