The Otago Regional Council has cancelled the irrigation ban it was due to implement on the Taieri River today following rainfall over the past few days.
Less than 24 hours before the ban was due to come into place, the council withdrew its Water Shortage Direction notice that would have stopped farmers taking water from the river from midday Wednesday.
Otago Regional Council chief executive Peter Bodeker said significant rain has fallen in the last 48 hours and river levels are now above minimum flows at all of the council's monitoring sites.
"The real water shortage area around the Taieri River got a pretty reasonable sort of rain and as a result we're not imposing the notice of Water Shortage Direction which we were going to do at midday.
It may only be a reprieve of a week or so but it's certainly helpful and there's rain predicted for this weekend, so if we get a bit more, that will certainly help the situation," he said.
But Mr Bodeker said farmers need to keep irrigating conservatively and by no means are they out of the woods yet.
"We're asking farmers, and we've written them all today and sent an email to them, is that we'd like them to ration. If everybody goes on full-noise with irrigating then those minimum flows are going to crash and we'll be forced to reconsider our position about not issuing the notice.
But over the last six weeks farmers have been rationing and they've been very responsible in what they've been doing and we're expecting that to continue," said Mr Bodeker.
The council earlier said the irrigation ban had been planned because last week its data showed the drought was already worse than the last big one of 1999.
A number of farmers in Maniototo had labelled the ban as unfair.
Chairperson of Kyeburn Catchment Limited, David McAtamney said 18 farmers had been giving up 100 litres of water per second for weeks to raise the river level, and the irrigation ban punished them for doing the right thing.