Preparing for dry weather
Dry weather forecast for Summer and Autumn 2023-24
NIWA has confirmed the arrival of the El Niño weather pattern in Aotearoa New Zealand.
During an El Niño, New Zealand tends to experience strong, more frequent westerly winds. El Niño also tend to bring above average temperatures. This increases the chance of:
- drier-than-normal conditions in northern and eastern areas of the country (Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago)
- heavier rainfall than usual in the western and lower South Island
- wildfire during prolonged periods of hot, windy weather, which can impact the amount of water available for other uses.
In these weather conditions, soil moisture and river levels are likely to be near normal or below normal in all areas except the west of the South Island.
While we’re not experiencing much dry weather yet, this could change quickly. So, it’s important to be prepared.
How you can prepare for dry weather
Some drinking water suppliers have let us know that they’re already preparing for the risk of dry weather and drought and are proactively planning for how this might affect their drinking water supply.
As a drinking water supplier, now is a good time to prepare for possible dry weather conditions. You can do this by:
- reviewing your Drinking Water Safety Plan (DWSP) as well as any drought planning you have in place. Remember to submit your updated DWSP to us via Hinekōrako if you make any changes
- talking with mana whenua about your drought plans, if you think there may be a risk to your supply, so that you can ensure the actions you’ve included give effect to Te Mana o te Wai
- engaging with any large water consumers you supply to encourage them to prepare for possible dry weather and consider how they can reduce their use of drinking water
- having a clear plan in place for how you’ll communicate any water restrictions to consumers
- making sure you’re clear on the low flow conditions of your surface water take consents. Contact your regional council if you have any questions about consents
- considering how low flow conditions could affect the quality of water being abstracted or provided.
You may also want to consider how low flow conditions could impact other network operations, for example wastewater systems.
If dry weather impacts your water supply
We’re committed to ensuring all communities have access to safe and reliable drinking water every day.
If dry weather conditions in your area are likely to impact your ability to provide safe and sufficient drinking water, we encourage:
- council suppliers to inform us early
- smaller suppliers to inform your local council early.
We also encourage all suppliers to engage as early as possible with:
- your consumers
- Fire and Emergency New Zealand
- anyone else you provide drinking water to, for example water carriers.
This enables us all to work together to ensure everyone has a sufficient supply of drinking water.
How to stay up to date on forecast weather conditions and potential impacts in your area
NIWA has several tools that you can use to stay up to date on weather conditions and impacts near you. These include:
What it’s for
Shows areas where dryness or drought are predicted over the next 35 days
Tracks drought conditions across New Zealand
Provides air temperature, rainfall, soil moisture and river flow predictions for the coming season
For rural communities, the Ministry for Primary Industries has produced information on preparing for El Niño.