|Marlborough Dist. Council | Ministry of Energy|
Weathering the year's extremes
NZ Herald Online 10.01.2001 [Abridged]
It was a year of extremes. Last year's winter was the second-warmest on record, but the year brought hailstorms, heatwaves, tornadoes and drought. "In terms of weather, the year had it all," said senior climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. Present climate research suggested unsettled weather and higher temperatures would continue this century, Dr Salinger said. The warm winter (1998 was the warmest) was further evidence of global warming, as greenhouse gases continued to be pumped into the atmosphere, he said. "Currently we are warming 2 degrees per century and that amount of warming is unprecedented in the last 10,000 years."
Last year, 15 high rainfall events produced floods, an early autumn drought, two heatwaves, six cold snaps, three tornadoes, 11 high-wind episodes leading to property damage and three severe hailstorms.
Drought and fires hit Marlborough
ONE NEWS Feb 15, 2001
Up to 40 Marlborough firefighters have been fighting a grass fire south of Ward - the second blaze at the site of a derailed Tranz Rail freight train. The first fire is believed to have been sparked by the derailment and firefighters believe Tranz Rail workers repairing the tracks may have started the second blaze.
Meanwhile, Marlborough residents are feeling the effects of the ongoing drought, as the area runs very short of water. Plant and fish life are struggling and farmers are sinking wells in search of water. Fish are struggling to survive in the trout fisheries as pools dry. A Fish and Game rescue team is trying to save what trout they can but says the scale of the problem is large and they can only salvage a handful of fish.
The last three months in Marlborough have been the driest on record, with just 39 millimetres of rain falling - a quarter of the average rainfall. In the past two weeks it has recorded just six millimetres of rain. It is so dry native tress are wilting and dying under the heat. The region has a total ban on fires.
ONE News Apr 05, 2001
The drought in the South Island is not just affecting farmers, with hydro power generators also feeling the pinch as low lake levels start to bite. Power companies are closely monitoring levels at the southern hydro lakes, which provide the bulk of the power to the national grid, after a summer of below average rainfall. They have been forced to reduce their power production in the South Island and import electricity from the North Island. That has pushed up the price of wholesale power in the south. Since the start of 2001, wholesale prices have more than doubled, going from two cents a kilowatt to five cents a kilowatt. However, with competition in the market place stiff, the price of power is not expected to rise for consumers. Forecasters do not expect the weather to change soon with average to below average rainfall predicted in the Southern Alps for the next three months. Generating companies say there is no cause for alarm and they have enough water stored to last through winter. Since Christmas, only half of the average rainfall has fallen on the Southern Alps, forcing hydro generators to store water for winter and reduce power production. That has seen North Island geothermal plants increase production and take the unusual step of providing power to the South Island.
Counting drought's cost
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
SUNDAY, 22 APRIL 2001 [Abridged]
The Dairy Board has calculated that the present drought has already cost the economy $150 million, and that the cost each day is two to three million. By the end of winter, if it does not rain, the economy could be down by $300 million. In purely farming terms, the drought is forcing additional expenditure on feed, which has increased in cost and made the Government consider the importation of supplies. Even if rain comes soon, the onset of winter will stymie grass growth. The condition of stock is deteriorating, which will reduce their productivity. Indeed there is no denying that the region is drought-prone, but this big dry is unusually severe. In fact, it is set to break all records. In many areas rainfall is at the lowest ever measured. Nothing like it has been experienced here since 1972-3. Neither is there consolation in the irrigation network that has progressively covered the east coast – almost 400,000 hectares of Canterbury land is serviced. The fact is that rivers that feed these schemes are, in many instance, so low that draw-off restrictions are in force...
UPDATE (May 3) TV1 Holmes Programme - The drought so far has cost the country $530 million.
Aquifers may not recover
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
SATURDAY, 28 APRIL 2001 [Abridged]
Marlborough's water supplies may not recover from this year's drought before next summer. Mayor Gerald Hope and ground water experts say the depleted aquifers may not be able to cope with increasing demands next irrigation season. And climate experts say the drought is so severe even high winter rains may not fully recharge the aquifers. "If we don't get good rain by October/November, there is going to be the question of whether aquifers will recharge sufficiently for next year's growing season," said council ground water resources officer Peter Davidson... He said the council had expected rain in April and that had not eventuated as yet and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research was now saying the region may not get a decent amount of rain until spring. Mr Hope promoted the idea of the Marlborough water augmentation scheme, which plans to use water from the Wairau River for irrigation. "People think it is cooling down, but the ground is very dry by lunchtime and the fire risk is still very high. The bottom line is we need rain."
COMMENT: TWM contacted the Mayor | Marlborough District Council on 13 March and again on 27 April. They are aware that a solution is available, so why the delay?
Drought-break hopes fizzle to drizzle
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
WEDNESDAY, 02 MAY 2001 [Abridged]
Canterbury's big dry continues despite drizzle falling across most of the parched region. Yesterday's grey skies failed to deliver on their promise of a drought-breaking rain, bringing instead only a smattering of drizzle. Forecaster Tony Trewinnard said heavy rain was needed to even begin to replenish the region's soil-moisture levels. "The rain has been good psychologically but it definitely isn't a drought-breaker," he said. "It will do little to alter the impact of the drought." Mr Trewinnard said it could be another couple of months before the region received any significant rain and it would be even longer before the region's soil-moisture levels recovered. Big, slow-moving anti-cyclones had sat over the south, keeping away the normal rain-making weather – cloudy fronts and depressions. "The rain-producing systems have had to move around them. That's why we're dry and places like Tauranga and Whakatane have had over twice their normal rainfall."
TV One and Meridian search for weather predictors
When the cabbage leaves curl, expect rain, but when the Pohutukawa flowers early, expect a long hot summer.
Every day, New Zealanders use hundreds of methods to predict the weather - some more scientific than others, some less reliable than others, and TV One and Meridian Energy have launched a nationwide search for them. Those with the right stuff will have their prediction method featured on the One Weather Update at 8:10pm every night from 14 June.
Meridian Director of Power Marketing, Ray Aspey, said that the search for "weather diviners" had come about as a celebration of how Meridian generates electricity. Meridian, the country's largest generator, generates electricity entirely from natural sources - water and wind... "While we do rely mostly on weather forecasts from meteorologists we don't discard traditional methods. For example, the more enlightened of us here at Meridian were expecting this year's South Island drought because the cabbage trees flowered early," he said. [...]
Low lakes bring power caution
NZ Herald 08.06.2001 [Abridged]
People are being warned of possible power shortages because hydro lakes are lower than usual and little rain is expected until the end of winter. Energy Minister Pete Hodgson said yesterday that there was a "modest chance of supply difficulties" and the Government had asked for weekly updates on lake levels. National hydro storage is at 61 per cent of the average for this time of year, and the amount ofwater flowing into the lakes in the past week has been only 39 per cent of average. Energy companies say they are not concerned about how low the hydro lakes are for the time of year, but still want people to conserve power.
Spurred by memories of the 1992 crisis, when a severe drought led to household water heating being cut for up to 17 hours a day and everyone was urged to save power, Contact Energy has already prepared an extra thermal generator for use at its New Plymouth power station. The nine-week crisis cost the Government-owned Electricorp more than $100 million. Contact's general manager (corporate affairs), David Hunt, said the country was much more capable of producing power thermally than in 1992 and lake levels were a lot higher. "The lakes are certainly low, but we're not setting any records." Meridian, which manages 44 per cent of the country's hydro storage capacity, is also relaxed about lake levels. Spokesman Alan Seay said the company was "not unduly concerned," although the levels would be closely watched.
Blackout fear as hydro lakes keep draining
NZ Herald Friday July 27, 2001 [Abridged]
New Zealand is in danger of power blackouts in September or October if hydro lake levels continue to fall. A top-level briefing to Government ministers obtained by the Herald describes the risk as moderate, but sources said it was likely to become severe within a few weeks. The briefing notes for ministers said particularly low lake levels or a major plant failure before snow thawed in spring could trigger cuts. The wording is more ominous than Energy Minister Pete Hodgson's June warning of a "modest chance of supply difficulties". High prices are already hurting businesses, but officials have not yet estimated the economic impact. Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday that in 1992 "the crisis, which was significantly worse than the point we are at... clipped 0.6 per cent off GDP [equal to $600 million] ". Treasury had yet to assess the effects "because no one is quite sure if this is going to be a '92". A climate scientist with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), David Wratt, said the forecast was for average rain in the South Island hydro lake catchment over the next three months. But that might come as snow, which took time to melt. Lake Taupo was expected to have average to below-average rainfall.
Livestock ravages 'worst on record'
NZ Herald Thursday August 02, 2001 [Abridged]
Animals are starving to death and South Island farmers are being forced to clean out stock because of a drought that has lasted for almost a year in some regions. While the rest of New Zealand grapples with the prospect of power cuts because of low hydro lake levels, farmers in parts of the South Island are watching stock die and increasing the numbers being sent for slaughter. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's senior adviser for animal welfare, Earl Culham, said yesterday that the situation was the worst on record. Hundreds of animals were dying or having to be killed because of the conditions. Hardest-hit were Marlborough and Otago, but the problems were in pockets throughout the South Island. Federated Farmers Marlborough president David Dillon said trucks had carted nearly 1000 large bundles of hay into the region, but that would not ease feed shortages. The drought began in Marlborough last spring. Senior scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Jim Salinger, said an increase in anticyclones during the past months had led to dry weather. Problems for Marlborough farmers began in spring. Since then, the area had never received a large soaking of rain to help it recover, he said. Meanwhile, particularly dry weather in South Island alpine areas from autumn onwards - caused by more highs to the east of the country and northeasterly winds - led to the increasingly low lake levels in hydro lakes.
Crucial dams gasping for rain
NZ Herald Thursday August 02, 2001 [Abridged]
Water levels in Lake Taupo are hovering only 15cm above the legal minimum to supply the hydro dams that are crucial to New Zealand's power supply. The eight Waikato River dams that rely on Taupo water normally supply 12 to 13 per cent of the nation's electricity in winter. But the owner of the dams, Mighty River Power, said yesterday that it was supplying only 8 to 9 per cent of the country's needs because of one of the driest periods on record. Doug Heffernan, chief executive of the state-owned generator, said little rain had fallen since May. Only a week to 10 days' reserve water would be left company drew it down to the bare minimum, although it did not intend to do so. in the lake if theThe water levels in the country's other main hydro lakes are still falling. Their generating capacity yesterday - 1328 gigawatt hours - is 56 per cent of the average for this time of the year. During the 1992 crisis, the levels fell to 500 gigawatt hours. The levels of southern hydro lakes on Sunday were: Manapouri, 32 per cent full; Te Anau, 39 per cent; Wakatipu, 28 per cent; Wanaka, 37 per cent; Hawea, 16 per cent; Ohau, 22 per cent; Pukaki, 41 per cent; and Tekapo, 34 per cent. But the amount of water flowing into the lakes is rising. The latest measured inflow was 4 per cent above average. With Lake Taupo close to shut-off point, Auckland's Mercury Energy, owned by Mighty River Power, is relying on other suppliers. Mr Heffernan said Taupo had been low for more than two months and the dams were generating only three-quarters of the power they normally would at this time of year.
Drought bites deeper
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
04 August 2001 [Abridged]
The South Island drought continues to bite, driving sheep numbers to record lows and leaving farmers paying out millions to feed their livestock. "We would have had the best financial year we ever had this last 12 months, but for the drought," says Peter Roberts. He has yet to do the sums, but knows they have spent tens of thousands of dollars in buying in feed since the drought bit hard in February. The autumn drought led to a near total loss of all winter green-feed crops – irrigation or no irrigation. By the time irrigation came on line again, ground temperatures were dropping fast in the face of heavy frosts and cold, clear days. The growing season was all but over. Agriculture New Zealand farm consultant Ken Muscroft-Taylor says some farmers who shut up paddocks in May in the hope of winter growth have lost pasture cover because of frost damage. "We have had below average rainfall every month since December. But that was only part of the problem. We just did not have any autumn rain," Muscroft-Taylor says. Dairy farmers also face problems, possibly being able to achieve only once-a-day milking when they start up again. He knows of dairy farmers who have spent $200,000 on supplementary feed.
Warning: drought is still here
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
15 August 2001 [Abridged]
Marlborough pastures will probably wilt before summer has even begun, despite recent rain. Viticulture, horticulture, arable and pastoral farmers are facing an uphill battle as soil moisture, which has failed to recover over winter, struggles to reach levels capable of sustaining plant life through early summer. The 19mm of rain which has fallen in the lower Wairau Valley over the past week (10mm yesterday) has been of some help, but most areas needed a further 100-200mm over a week or two to bring the situation back to normal, says Agriculture New Zealand consultant Ian Blair.
Marlborough mayor Gerald Hope said the Marlborough District Council would be legally obliged to introduce water restrictions for irrigators if wells started drying up this summer. Mr Hope said the council was taking the matter quite seriously and was in new territory, given the unprecedented length of the drought. Soil moisture levels are just half what they need to be at this time of year to carry production past Christmas, said Mr Blair. Even if normal weather patterns resumed from now, pasture production would only be 60-68 percent of normal, he said.
COMMENT: If the Marlborough District Council was really serious it would have discussed the matter with TWM in March. See email (10 July) to Marlborough Mayor, Gerald Hope.
Next year will be worse say power pundits
The country is facing even worse power shortages next winter because predicted spring rains may not refill the South Island's emptying hydro lakes. A series of predictions in the past 48 hours have revealed the extent of the problem:
* The Treasury has sent the Government a blunt warning that there could be a power crisis if the hydro lakes are not replenished.
* The country's biggest power generator has said that with below average or even average inflows lake storage would be "tight".
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is forecasting average to below average rainfall and average early spring temperatures in the South Island hydro lakes area during August, September and October. With no El Nino or La Nina forecast for later in the year, no heavy rain is expected.
Officials estimate the present power shortage will shave $225 million off the economy if target savings of 10 per cent are achieved, but see only short-lived economic damage. They say lower power output and a switch from hydro to thermal generation are already having a direct impact on the economy. There will also be indirect effects from higher power prices, a potential drop in business and consumer confidence and a fall in production. They stress that these are initial estimates and the situation could worsen if rain does not fall over coming months.
COMMENT: Minister Pete Hodgson was contacted at the beginning of August and has not responded to date (19 August).
Power crisis hits school in the pocket
ONE News Aug 22, 2001 [Abridged]
The power crisis is now taking its toll on some of the country's secondary schools. At least five Wellington schools are facing big bills after being hit with high spot market prices, and one has been billed for more than $20,000 for last month - $13,000 more than its previous account. It is money the school simply does not have. "We work on a limited tight budget, could not foresee this power hike and we can't afford it - I'm petrified to think what the August bill will be like," Wellington High principal Prue Kelly told the Holmes show. The school is now going cap in hand to the Ministry of Education for help. The Ministry of Education has confirmed four other Wellington schools have also been hit by power bill spikes, and the Education Minister is now looking at what relief he might offer. The irony that his colleague may have to bail schools out of a problem created by a government-owned energy company has not escaped the Energy Minister. "There isn't any sense in it, in the sense that the government ends up paying for it if you see what I mean," Hodgson told the Holmes show.
Californian dreaming is not a reality
NZ Herald Saturday September 08, 2001 [Abridged]
Energy Minister Pete Hodgson may be confident the electricity crisis is over. But Mr Hodgson would be prudent to keep the pressure on business users to conserve power for some time yet — if only as useful political risk management to try and avert another major electricity shortage in 2002. Many in business including the Employers & Manufacturers Association believe the crisis is far from over — particularly for businesses still facing costs 30 per cent higher than they were just months ago. NIWA predictions that spring rainfall could be below average, with the likelihood of a dry summer and another cold, dry winter next year.Treasury estimates the current crisis has already cost the economy $200 million. Officials estimate the present power shortage will shave $225 million off the economy if target savings of 10 per cent are achieved, but see only short-lived economic damage. They say lower power output and a switch from hydro to thermal generation are already having a direct impact on the economy. There will also be indirect effects from higher power prices, a potential drop in business and consumer confidence and a fall in production. They stress that these are initial estimates and the situation could worsen if rain does not fall over coming months.
Not enough rain
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
13 September 2001 [Abridged]
The same type of weather patterns experienced in the South Island for most of this year are likely to continue into spring and early summer, says Blue Skies weather forecaster Tony Trewinnard. Mr Trewinnard says slow-moving weather systems have been characteristic this year. "When that happens rainfall does tend to suffer. We've had systems that have sat over New Zealand for two to three weeks without change, like the extremely cold weather pattern at the beginning of July, or the two weeks of cloudy conditions in May. "Our forecast is we can't see any shift towards a markedly wetter-than-normal period. The best we can expect is normal rainfall, but the probability is it will be below normal," he says. "I can't see any change until the latter half of summer or next winter. There is the possibility we will see a weak El Nino develop during summer, but that will only affect things in autumn or early winter." Mr Trewinnard says there has only been one month this year, July, when rainfall was above normal.
Canty faces nightmare dry summer
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LTD
TUESDAY, 02 OCTOBER 2001 [Abridged]
A second summer of drought looms in Canterbury as the lingering dry spell stunts spring growth, increases the fire risk, and threatens the region's rivers. MetService figures show that for the first nine months of this year, Christchurch received only 270mm of rain – less than half the 648mm normally recorded over that period and well below the 500mm recorded by this time last year.Irrigation consultant Tony Davoren said conditions were the driest he had seen since 1988-89. "We need 80mm to 100mm of rain – that's the only thing that is going to save some of these farmers," he said. Blue Skies weather forecaster Tony Trewinnard said the past year had broken weather records. December to April was the driest-ever five-month stint for Christchurch. "There is no major international weather phenomenon we can pin this on; it just is."
There were no clear trends for spring and summer, but Mr Trewinnard said there was not much chance of above-average rainfall."October is a critical month for the region because from November onwards evapotranspiration usually exceeds monthly rainfall, putting real pressure on soil-moisture levels."
Hot weather rekindles power worries
ONE News Oct 02, 2001
As Canterbury basks in hot spring weather, energy suppliers are warning that the winter power crisis is far from over. Meridian Energy has cut generation at its key Tekapo station as lake inflows hit their lowest level since records began 70 years ago. Generators that have been running on empty at Tekapo A hydro station are now not running at all and Lake Tekapo has fallen to such a low level that generating from the power station has been stopped to let it build up again. Lake Tekapo supplies 11% of New Zealand's hydro power storage capacity and in the past few days it has dropped from 23% to just 15% full. Mackenzie District Mayor Neil Anderson believes the continuing dry weather was not anticipated when the power crisis was deemed over. "I think we have got a crisis down here that the nation is not aware of," Anderson said. Meridian is more worried about the long-term impact. Spokesman Alan Seay says the issue is going to be if there is not enough significant rain between now and next winter. Meanwhile, locals are urging New Zealanders to save power again
Power crisis still possible
ONE News Oct 18, 2001
The government is being urged to bring back voluntary electricity savings to avoid another power crisis. Power generator Genesis says there is not enough rain to refill southern hydro lakes, and Lake Taupo's storage levels are the worst on record.The warning comes as the country's three state-owned generating companies report healthy profits.In the year to June Meridian Energy made a net profit of $125 million.Genesis and Mighty River Power both made $59 million - an average increase for all three of 25%. Dividend payouts to the government total more than $200 million.
COMMENT: See correspondence between TWM and the Minister of Energy (Pete Hodgson).
Icy conditions cost NZ farmers millions
Asia Pacific News Stories 28/11/2002 20:04:20
While Australian farmers grapple with drought, their counterparts across the Tasman are reeling from the coldest spring in 30 years. Our New Zealand correspondent Gillian Bradford says agriculture officials believe the icy conditions have cost the country around $US222 million. The latest farm statistics show the dairy industry has suffered most, losing more than $39 million from lower milk production. Kiwi fruit growers have also been hit, producing eight million less trays than last year. Frost and hail in grape growing regions has cost New Zealand's wine industry around $22 million, while snow storms late in the season killed more than $5.5 million worth of lambs. Though not as severe as Australia's, some farmers in the South Island are also experiencing a drought.
Wine company profits fall
STUFF Thursday, 05 February 2004 [Abridged]
Wine companies' bottom lines are feeling the cold after the devastating 2002 frosts. The Marlborough-based New Zealand Wine Company has reported a 46 per cent drop in its half-year profit, citing frosts and changing markets for the drop. Other wine companies say they are also feeling the impacts of the cold snap and the hot dollar. In its half yearly report, the AX listed New Zealand Wine Company, which produces the Grove Mill and Sanctuary labels, reported a drop in its tax paid earnings for the six months to December 2003 of $321,000, down from $596,000 the previous year. The company's sales revenue for the half year was down 23 per cent to $3.35 million. Company chairman Mark Peters said there were two main reasons for the drop. The first was a change in buying patterns... The second was a flow on from the frost affected 2003 vintage.The company's grape yields dropped from 1227 tonnes in 2002 to 874 tonnes in 2003, a 29 per cent decline in production due to frost...
Rains Break Drought
Fencepost Industry News 28-Nov-2001
High October and November rainfall could be described as "drought breaking" for most of the country, says climate agency NIWA. NIWA's agricultural climatologist Alan Porteous said the good thing about November so far was there had been rain pretty much everywhere in the country. "The rain that's fallen in November and October together had substantially overcome the very dry conditions that had developed in places like the Waikato, Wanganui, Manawatu, Wellington, and certainly Nelson and Marlborough, so those rains, you could almost call them drought- breakers really," he said. However, Mr Porteous said some areas that had been hardest hit by drought remained marginal. Inland Otago and Canterbury were still in need of further falls, with farmers in Central Otago having to cope with less than average spring rainfall levels...
NZ POWER SUMMARY 2001 [Abridged]
1. What Factors Contributed to Wholesale Electricity Market Developments in the 2001 Winter? [...]
[...] It was widely recognised that the leading cause of the developments in winter 2001 was the low inflow of water to the hydro-power systems in both islands.
"In hydroelectric terms, 2001 is the worst drought we have experienced in the last 71 years, for the first seven month period of each year. From being very full at the start of the 2001 year, hydro storage levels fell rapidly during the summer so that, by the beginning of winter, hydro storage was as low as it had ever been in the last 22 years, barring 1992. During April, May, and June hydro storage continued to fall rapidly, until the end of June when there was a rain storm which refilled the lakes somewhat. In July inflows reverted to the drought pattern and lakes fell more rapidly as the increasing winter demand required extra generation" - Infratil...
COMMENT: See TWM correspondence with the Hon. Pete Hodgson, Minister of Energy.
NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL CLIMATE SUMMARY
NIWA WEDNESDAY, 9 JANUARY 2002 [Abridged]
1 January 2001–31 December 2001
EXTREMELY LOW ANNUAL RAINFALL IN THE EASTERN SOUTH ISLAND AND PARTS OF THE LOWER NORTH ISLAND, DESPITE WET END-OF-YEAR CONDITIONS
SEVERE SUMMER–AUTUMN DROUGHT, MID-WINTER FREEZE
MANY OTHER EXTREME EVENTS
For the first year of the new millennium, New Zealand’s climate records continued to tumble. Senior climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger said the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) analysis of the year’s weather showed new local records being set in some months, both for average and extreme temperature. "2001 was one of the driest years on record in many eastern South Island areas, as well as parts of Wellington, despite wet October-December conditions," Dr Salinger said. "The North Island bore the brunt of eleven rainfall/flooding extremes. Tornadoes also featured in 2001, with at least eight reported, along with an unusual number of wind events, many of them causing property damage. The year featured many new climate records and extremes, with five unusually warm months, and two much colder than average months. There were six cold snaps last winter, four with snow and two with extreme frosts. There were at least two widespread and damaging hailstorms, with hailstones the size of golf balls." [...]
|All pages © 1997 - 2008 TWM|
|Last modified: 26 December 2001|