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Dry summer threatens Auckland with drought

Published: 6:21PM Wednesday March 24, 2010 Source: ONE News

Aucklanders are being told to rein in their water use after it was revealed the city is heading down the same path as drought-stricken Northland.

Dead grass, cracks in the lawn, and vegetables half their usual size are just some of the symptoms of what is set to be Auckland's driest late summer period of January, February, and March since rainfall records began around 50 years ago.

Auckland typically gets around 80-100mms of rain in March, but in the first three weeks there have been less than 5mm.

NIWA scientist Georgina Griffiths says the dry weather is due to the highs blocking near, or sitting near, Auckland, which don't allow rain-producing systems onto the region.

"We've seen a really large change in the soil moisture levels, so those soils in Auckland [are] extremely dry right now," adds Griffiths.

While Auckland's dam levels are only slightly lower than normal, thanks to careful management and a wet winter last year, Watercare says that next summer Aucklanders might face water restrictions.

"Our greatest concern would be if there's a very unusually dry winter, and lake levels didn't increase over the winter months. That would mean there could be a requirement for additional water savings," says Watercare's Mark Bourne.

Last month was Auckland's driest February on record, and March is also set to be a record dry.