August 26, 2008

River Level on the Up Again

By NEEMS, Jeff

Yet more heavy rain has again raised the level of the Waikato River.

Environment Waikato senior regional hazards officer Greg Ryan said the river was back up to 15m in Hamilton this morning, but staff did not believe it would reach the near-16m peak seen in the city earlier this month. The river dropped to as low as 14m in the middle of last week.

"It's risen a little bit, but it's not too bad. Over the last couple of days it's risen steadily to 15m," said Mr Ryan. "I wouldn't expect it to go much higher than it is at the moment . . . the forecast is a bit more favourable for the next few days."

However, Mr Ryan said there had been some surface flooding related to Mangatangi and Mangatawhiri rivers in the northern Waikato, from relentless rain yesterday. "Yesterday we did have some flooding, but they're both receding."

For the 24 hours up until 7am today 23mm of rain fell in Hamilton, Coromandel had about 70mm, while the Kaimai Range bore the brunt of the rain with 100mm recorded. In the King Country, about 40mm of rain fell.

Outflow from the Karapiro Dam - a crucial flood control tool for EW - had risen slightly to make up more storage in the river system, but the amount of water being spilled from the dam was not as high as earlier this month when residents of low- lying Hamilton streets Awatere Ave and Ann St were warned they might need to evacuate.

Mr Ryan said it was unlikely more water would need to be spilled from Karapiro over the next few days, but daily discussions with Mighty River Power about the lake levels would continue.

The Waipa River levels had also dropped.

From Wednesday, the weather is set to improve. MetService forecaster Chris Noble said the North Island may even be treated to a high-pressure system "which we haven't seen for a long time".

However, it was possible more big low-pressure systems could arrive over coming weeks. "But in the short-term, there are no big heavy rain events looming."

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