Hosing restrictions are in effect for 12 Southland townships as a result of the recent warm weather.
Like much of the rest of New Zealand, Southland is also bearing the brunt of unseasonably hot weather, with limitations on water use being put into effect this week across the district.
The Southland District Council (SDC) asked Southlanders on Monday to do their bit to preserve water by using handheld hosing only, refraining from using sprinklers, and to not use water for extended amounts of time such as to fill a swimming pool or wash a car.
The restrictions are in place until further notice for all 12 townships on a council drinking water scheme, which are Winton, Otautau, Riverton, Tuatapere, Wyndham/Edendale, Lumsden/Balfour, Eastern Bush/Otahu Flat (treated rural water supply), Orawia, Manapouri, Te Anau, Mossburn, and Ohai/Nightcaps/Wairio.
Environment Southland director of science and information Graham Sevicke-Jones said Southland hadn’t experienced a dry period like this since 1990.
“It’s been an unusually dry year to date, with approximately 81% of the usual rainfall for the region.
With one month left in the year, Southland may experience its lowest yearly rainfall since Environment Southland’s monitoring began in the mid-1970s.
NIWA reported that for the month of November, temperatures and sunshine were well above normal in parts of Southland, with temperatures 1.2 degrees above the average. Soil moisture was significantly drier than normal for most of the South Island.
Hosing bans were first called for in Otautau and Te Anau last week and SDC manager for water and waste services Ian Evans said Te Anau, Otautau, and at one point Tuatapere had been getting close to reaching their maximum consented allowance.
While the restrictions came from high usage due to the heat, growing tourist numbers added an extra pressure point in Te Anau, he said.
Mr Evans said the low-level restrictions were a time to be proactive about water usage so that hopefully tougher measures didn't have to be put into place.
"We just want to raise awareness that if people don't start conserving their water a little bit more, then it may drive us to have more active restrictions."
It was too early to say when the restrictions would be lifted but the hope was to go back to normal as soon as possible.
Several other councils across New Zealand have also asked residents to conserve water.
Te Anau Community Board chairwoman Rachel Cockburn and Cr Ebel Kremer said within Te Anau they hadn't got any complaints about the supply limitations.
Fire restrictions are in place across Southland, with certain burns such as bonfires, fire pits, and land clearings, among others, requiring a fire permit.