Devastating blow for Nelson growers as water restrictions announced

The announcement of water restrictions in Nelson has been described as a devastating decision for the local horticulture industry.

Tasman's Waimea River has hit critically low levels and water users will face 65 percent rationing from Monday.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the decision was made by council and not connected to the fires in the region.

"This is an extremerely serious situation for our horticulture sector and will have severe financial implications," he said.

He said a topline assessment suggested that if there was 35 percent rationing it would mean a $100 million loss to the economy.

"This is 65 percent, so it is significantly greater."

Meanwhile the Ministry for Primary Industries is working closely with response agencies as fire and drought conditions continue

"This is a very challenging time for farmers, the horticulture and wine industries in the region and, of course, for the whole community who have been affected by wildfire and drought conditions," said MPI Regional Controller, David Lindsay.

The Waimea River is at a critically low level.
The Waimea River is at a critically low level. Photo credit: Newshub

"We are working closely with Tasman District Council, Rural Support Trust and other agencies to ensure rural communities are supported as the drought bites and we move into the second week of the fire," he said.

A medium-scale adverse event for both fire and drought was recently declared for Tasman district, unlocking Government support for farmers and growers.

"Please conserve as much water as possible while still providing for your animal and human welfare needs, as the dry conditions continue."

MPI's advice to rural communities:

Providing shade and shelter


Contain livestock in paddocks where there is adequate shade for every animal. Check that the water supply is still drinkable. Low dams or ponds may be surrounded by mud or sludge. Fencing off these areas will prevent animals from potentially becoming entrapped.

Stock levels


It is critical stock levels on properties are appropriate to the water restrictions currently in place. Farmers and lifestyle block owners need to be making active destocking decisions.



Federated Farmers has opened its Feedline to support farmers who have been affected by the fires and need extra feed or grazing for their animals. Farmers who are short of feed, or who have feed to donate, can contact Federated Farmers on 0800 327 646. Anyone affected by fires and needing feed for animals can register for this help but availability is dependent on donations and priority will be given to farms who rely on farm income for their living and have been affected by fire.

Wildfires and animal welfare


For properties affected by the wildfire, MPI has animal welfare staff at each cordon during the access periods. We encourage people to approach our staff at the cordons if they have any concerns or need help.

For further animal welfare advice or assistance contact MPI's animal welfare team on 0800 008 333 (Option 4).

Animal welfare officers are posted at the cordons, at each of the four valleys that were evacuated. We will be there every day when the cordons are open, to talk to people visiting their properties and animals.

In the valley areas where there is still restricted access, MPI has animal welfare staff at each cordon during the access periods and we encourage people to approach the MPI staff at those cordons if they have any concerns. They are there to make sure MPI is aware of any issues.

Rural Support Trust


Farmers and growers communities are also able to access support from the local Rural Support Trust who can provide free and confidential support, advice and referrals, including with health, finances and more. The RST can be contacted on 0800 787 254.