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Floods and flow

Waikato Regional Council monitors river levels and rainfall in the Waikato region to help predict floods, minimising threats to human life and property. We monitor river flows to ensure water takes don’t exceed acceptable levels of use. Changes in river flow over time help tell us how often a river floods, how it responds to extended dry periods and how much water is available for human use and natural habitat. Photograph of Firewood Creek, Hakarimata Ranges

We all rely on the region’s freshwater resources for:

  • domestic and community water supplies
  • irrigation
  • electricity generation
  • recreation and fishing.

But in times of flood there is too much water and in extended dry periods there can be not enough water available (low flows).

Our precious water resource

We need to monitor how much water is taken from our streams and rivers so that:

  • we avoid inefficient use of water so that people and communities have enough water to go around.
  • the amount of water flowing through waterways doesn’t negatively affect the aquatic plants and animals living in streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.

Wetlands play an important role in our water landscape as storage areas for floodwaters and have many plants and animals that have adapted to live in these conditions. Wetlands slow the flow of water off the land, soaking up excess flood water, and then slowly releasing water to maintain summer flows. Waikato Regional Council monitors river flows to see how they respond to extended dry periods and how much water is available for human use while maintaining natural habitat.

Too much water!

Waikato Regional Council also monitors river levels to reduce the risks from flooding in the region. Flooding is a risk in the Waikato region because frequent heavy rain and the steep gradient of many rivers mean the region is prone to flooding from severe weather patterns, especially tropical cyclones and depressions.

In the last 25 years many floods have been recorded, affecting urban and rural communities.

Waikato Regional Council's electronic monitoring of river levels and rainfall in the region provides early warning to the region’s population of potential flood events.  We monitor water level, flow and rainfall at over 80 water monitoring stations.

More information on this website

Some useful links to further information:    

  • Rainfall and river level information collected by the Waikato Regional Council are published on our website and are also available through our 0832 Infolines.
  • Lake level information for the Waikato River hydro-electric scheme (including Lake Taupo) is available from Mighty River Power.
  • Rainfall, lake and river level information for the Tongariro Power Scheme is available from Genesis Energy.
  • Current weather conditions, weather forecasts and severe weather bulletins are available from MetService.
  • Tidal forecasts are available from NIWA.
  • Civil defence information is available from the Waikato CDEM Group or the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
  • Information on other geological hazards (e.g. earthquakes, volcanos, landslides and tsunamis) is available from Geonet.