Heavy rain expected in Northland as falling river levels force tightening of water restrictions

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Parts of Northland could see a decent whack of rain today. Photo / File
Parts of Northland could see a decent whack of rain today. Photo / File

The MetService has issued a severe weather watch for Northland with heavy rain expected to lash parts of the region today.

Incidentally, the forecast comes just as the Far North District Council tightens up on water restrictions in some areas due to plummeting river levels.

A deepening trough is expected to remain slow-moving just west of the upper North Island today. Rain associated with the trough will spread southwards with heavy falls in parts of Northland.

Meteorologist Lisa Murray said Dargaville and other areas of the west coast would benefit most from the rain.

Areas north of the Bay of Islands had been expected to catch the bulk of yesterday's rain, with Kerikeri's light but steady drizzle totalling 7mm by 3pm.

However, the Far North District Council says even the predicted rain won't be enough to recharge depleted waterways.

As a result water restrictions have been further tightened in some areas with Omapere, Opononi, Paihia, Waitangi, Opua and Haruru Falls now subject to level three water restrictions.

That means households and businesses connected to council water supplies in those areas can only use a bucket to water gardens and wash cars or boats. The use of garden hoses is banned, as is filling private swimming pools.

In the rest of the Far North level two restrictions still apply, which means sprinklers and automated irrigation systems are banned but hand-held hoses are still permitted.

The council's acting infrastructure manager, Jim Brooks, said even the forecast rain was unlikely to be enough.

"We need a good soaking of at least 150mm of rain spread over a week," he said.

In the meantime, residents in level-three areas should use water for drinking, cooking and bathing only.

Mr Brooks said the Waitangi River, which supplies Paihia, Waitangi, Opua and Haruru Falls, had fallen to a one-in-five-year drought level.

To protect the river and ensure continued supply the council was asking people in those towns to step up their conservation efforts.

Restrictions would be re-assessed early next week.

Exemptions could be granted in exceptional circumstances but applicants had to prove significant hardship and have no practical alternative.

Residents concerned about breaches or water leaks should call the council on 0800 920 029.

Go to bewaterwise.org.nz for information on restrictions and water-saving tips.

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