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Rain arrives, but water conservation message remains

Monday 12 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Environment, National

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Rain arrives, but water conservation message remains
To Tatou Vai spokesperson Walter Tuarae-White. 22083110

Catchment intakes are looking healthier after a major dump of rain in the past week, but people are still being advised to conserve water.

About 70mm of rain has fallen this past week in Rarotonga, and it came at a time when five of Rarotonga’s 10 catchment intakes were below 50 per cent of their normal levels.

However, To Tatou Vai spokesman Walter Tuarae-White said the week’s constant rain had proved a real reprieve.

“Our catchment intakes are now at normal or near-normal levels. It’s certainly a relief, and hopefully if we can get some rain over the next few days, the situation will continue to improve,” Tuarae-White said.

Tuarae-White said in parts of Rarotonga, particularly in Avana, the rain reached as much as 42 litres per second.

“There’s been plenty of steady rain this week, it’s been a bit of a recharging period,” he said.

Tuarae-White said the otherwise dry period had meant the real effects of the rain would not be felt yet.

“Most of the streambeds are very dry, that’s not going to change for a while,” he said.

“But this is the sort of constant rain that’s needed.”

Tuarae-White said people nonetheless had to remain mindful of conserving water.

“We’ve got to be sensible over the coming few weeks, as it’s likely to be a dry December,” he said.

“For a small country, we consume a lot of water.” 

Tuarae-White said a “rough estimate would suggest we are consuming approximately 1000 litres per person per day”.

“From a water usage perspective, this is very high,” he said.

“If you are living on the lowest parts of the island or near the coast, remember when you open your tap you are depriving people inland of water. So be sure to shut off your tap and use water sparingly.”

MetService director Arona Ngari said there had been 90mm of rain since the beginning of December.

“Compared to 205mm on average, it is surely a shortfall of 50 per cent,” Ngari said.

“This calls for the public to conserve water and just be mindful of any water wastage in the public arena.

Ngari said there will be back to passing showers by Monday for the whole week.

The water shortage issues have stretched back to early November, with catchment intakes frequently running dry.

Tuarae-White said in November “When the island gets a good recharge of rain in the creeks and streams, up in the valleys at the catchment some of the water flows over the weir and down into the creeks.”

The catchment is in a “healthy state” when this occurs – if no water flows over the weir “then we know we are taking everything,” he said.

People should have respect for water, said Tuarae-White.