A burst main water pipe at Waihi left residents lining up for bottled water and making a dash for supplies in the supermarket yesterday.
Hauraki District Council issued a warning at 9.30am yesterday to residents that reservoir levels were extremely low, advising people not to shower or wash clothes until further notice.
A short time later, at 10.15am, HDC posted: "Waihi is now out of water."
Within an hour the council announced the break was fixed but residents were forced to get bottled water from collection points in town as the reservoir took several hours to operate again.
Schools closed throughout Waihi at 11.15am and children were sent home. Waihi schools, apart from Waihi Beach, are closed today and will reopen tomorrow.
Students Ollie Drake and Kara Burrell were "pretty grossed out" when they found the toilets wouldn't flush at school so were pleased to be sent home.
They were otherwise "chill" about the lack of water, picking up two bottles of water each from the Salvation Army.
They weren't worried it would continue for long, they said.
Bottled drinking was distributed from the Gold Education Centre, Morgan Park and the Salvation Army, with residents issued with four litres per household. HDC promised more would be available if needed.
Water tankers headed to town and the council advised any water taken from the tankers or water pod needed to be boiled as a precaution, saying the water was safe, but containers people used may not be.
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Lindsay Templeton said he witnessed a water delivery tanker loading up in Athenree Gorge previous to the outage and not far above the swimming hole, questioning the source.
Nearby Waikino was not critical, but residents were asked to restrict water use to a bare minimum.
Cafes were still open despite the lack of water.
HDC kept residents advised through social media and radio with signage also posted in town.
The council had about 587km of main pipelines.
"Thanks to our residents for their understanding as we get this sorted. It's all hands to the pump and information will be updated as it becomes available," said the council's senior communications advisor Paula Trubshaw.
Dee Stevenson wrote on social media that the council response to a water main pipe burst outside her house about 5pm the night before was impressive.
"We just wanted to acknowledge and thank our local water expert Neville (Shorty) and his team from Hauraki District Council. They came after hours and worked non-stop all night and were still going when we left for work this morning repairing the pipe. Well done guys, 100 per cent."
Water was sourced under resource consents from the Waikato Regional Council from 12 streams and rivers in the area, the major source being the Waitawheta River (7000cu m/day), Waihou River (15,000cu m/day), Waitakaruru River (6000cu m/day) and Walmsley Stream (3500cu m/day).
Residents had been asking about water usage by mining company OceanaGold.
Community advisor Kit Wilson said OceanaGold took about 80 cubic metres a day from the Ohinemuri and discharged about 12,000 cubic metres daily.
"That means we take out about 60 spa pools of water (with the average spa pool holding around 1500 litres of water), and discharge just a bit under the contents of five Olympic-size swimming pools of clean water into the river each day.
"While the treated water the mine discharges is safe and will not pose any health issues if consumed in small amounts, it is not potable drinking water and is relatively hard."
Waihi Native Plant Nursery was among businesses with its own bore water supply and was therefore unaffected by the outage. Other nurseries outside Waihi such as Country Dog Garden Centre were being mindful of water usage and reducing online irrigation duration but say without water, they had no business.