Sprinklers, unattended hoses and automatic irrigation systems have been banned on all properties connected to Far North District Council water supplies, as of yesterday.
The council announced the ban on Friday, in response to on-going dry weather and high demand for water.
General manager infrastructure and asset management Jacqui Robson said there had been no significant rain in the Far North since mid-November, some areas receiving record low rainfalls.
The 9mm that fell in Kerikeri in December was 8 per cent of normal, and the town's lowest December total since records began in 1935, while Kaitaia had its second-sunniest December since records began.
Demand for water had also been high, with large numbers of visitors to the district.
The council was therefore banning the use of sprinklers, unattended garden hoses and automatic irrigation devices at properties connected to its water supplies in Kaitaia, Kerikeri-Waipapa, Waitangi-Paihia-Opua, Russell, Kawakawa-Moerewa, Kaikohe-Ngawha and Okaihau, until further notice.
A similar ban was imposed at Rawene-Omanaia and Opononi-Omapere on December 1.
Ms Robson said the district-wide, Level 2 restrictions were a necessary precaution to delay the need for more stringent measures.
"The district is already very dry, and there is a 45 per cent chance of below normal rainfall between now and March. We need to start conserving water now to avoid more serious shortages over the next couple of months," she said.
The council was also asking rural households not connected to water supplies to conserve water, because the bulk water suppliers who topped up their tanks depended on the council's reticulated systems for their water.
During dry weather, the volume of water that was taken from those supplies for rural water tanks was significant, at a time when they had the least available water, so everyone was urged to be more thoughtful about how they used water over the next two or three months.
Failing to comply with the restrictions could result in a fine of up to $20,000. Ms Robson said the public could advise the council of any unauthorised water use by phoning 0800 920-029.
Meanwhile the Northland Regional Council is concerned by the long dry spell, particularly in the Far North and on the east coast from the Bay of Islands to Mangawhai.
Most rain gauges recorded 20-40mm of rain, less than half their average, in December, the lowest total fall recorded being 11mm at the Bay of Islands golf club, followed by Marsden Point (14mm).
Most rivers across the region had reached mean annual low flow, with those in the Bay of Islands, Kaihu and Bream Bay catchments being particularly low, regulatory services group manager Colin Dall said.
"It is important that water take consent holders ensure that they are complying with their consent conditions and are not wasting water. They should also check their water reticulation systems for leaks," he said.
All other water users needed to be aware of any restrictions in their areas, and comply with them. General water restrictions for the Far North and Whangārei districts could be found at www.bewaterwise.org.nz/.
Mr Dall asked that any suspected illegal water takes be reported to the regional council via its environmental hotline (0800 504-639).
For more articles from this region, go to Northland Age