Further water restrictions likely in Northland

By Imran Ali

The water supply to homes and business in one of the worst affected areas in Northland could be cut off to reserve water if significant rain does not fall in the next fortnight.

Kaipara District Council has warned that river and dam levels were at a critical level and has indicated the further restrictions, such as daily limits to the water supply, may be necessary.

"We would consider limiting the period the water supply is available during the day. This decision would not be taken lightly," council community engagement manager Barbara Ware said.

She said the council dam at Waiatua was only about 35 per cent full but since it was being preserved for future use, water was currently being drawn from the Kaihi River.

A district-wide hose and sprinkler ban came into effect on February 23 and anyone found breaching the restrictions could be liable for a fine of $500.

Despite regional challenges, Whangarei remains without restrictions, with dam levels at Wilsons and Whau Valley at 91 per cent and 93 per cent respectively - enough to last until the end of April, even if no rain fell.

Two other dams, the Gomez Dam at Hikurangi and Takahiwai Dam at Ruakaka, are not currently in use but are available in emergencies.

Council water services manager Andrew Venmore said a lot of rain in December topped the dams and at the beginning of this year, they were unusually full.

He said water levels at both of those dams were about 65 per cent at the start of 2010 - the year restrictions were put in place.

Level one water restrictions have been imposed in the South Hokianga towns of Omapere and Opononi and council spokesman Rick McCall said other areas were likely to follow suit if the district was unable to achieve voluntary water savings by about 20 per cent.

The Far North District Council has warned that water could be initially limited to the use of a hose, operation of a sprinkler or irrigation system at home, and filling a swimming pool.

The next step will be to restrict all water use to sanitation purposes only and once that point is reached, it's highly likely the FNDC is only able to maintain water supplies by using tankers.

Restrictions on the two towns were yesterday increased to level two - only 10 days after a limit on water use was first placed.

Level two bans the use of hoses for any purpose, including spraying gardens, washing vehicles, external cleaning of buildings, filling or topping up swimming pools, and cleaning paved areas.

- Northern Advocate

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