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11 November 2022

Rain provides slight relief to Rarotonga’s depleted intakes

Tuesday 6 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Environment, Local, National


Rain provides slight relief to  Rarotonga’s depleted intakes
Like many of the streams on the island, the Matavera stream was dry last week. Picture: To Tatou Vai/22120108

The recent rainfall in Rarotonga should provide a slight respite for the island’s depleted catchment intakes, but more rain will be needed to get them back to full health.

Rarotonga water authority To Tatou Vai spokesman Walter Tuarae-White said although the weekend’s rain was welcome, it was not yet enough to address the situation in which five of the island’s 10 catchment intakes are sitting below 50 per cent of their normal flow.

The MetService estimates about 18 millimetres of rain fell between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

“The weather moves in mysterious ways. Some of the intakes were sitting as low as 30 per cent of their flow, I think the rain would have topped them up by about five to six per cent,” Tuarae-White said.

“Which isn’t enough, but it’s a start.”

Tuarae-White said To Tatou Vai were holding out for some “consistent rain” over the week to replenish the depleted catchment intakes.

“If we can get steady rain over the next few days, that will go some way to recharging our streams,” Tuarae-White said.

“What we don’t want is one big dumping of rain and nothing else, as the ground is so dry at the moment.”

Tuarae-White said water conservation was essential during this period, as it might take some time for flows to resume back to normal.

“We’re asking people not be indiscriminate in their water use, just do sensible things such as not leaving the hose on all day,” Tuarae-White said.

“It’s still very dry out there.

“Fingers crossed we get steady rain over this week or so and in the right areas, such as the central highlands right across the island and especially Ngatoe on the western ranges.”

Cook Islands MetService director Arona Ngari said it was expecting more rain in Rarotonga over the coming few days.

“The weekend’s rain may have helped in the short term, but we’ll need between 100-150mm over the next few days to be really secure and return the intakes to about normal,” Ngari said.

Ngari said parts of Rarotonga could experience rain as heavy as 20mm per hour during the peak fall periods over the coming days.

“So we’re optimistic that things will begin to right themselves,” Ngari said.

“In some weeks, we seem to have been seeing the clouds coming from the west, but they keep missing us.”