Whangārei's almost 100,000 residents will likely soon need to cut their water use as the district moves to help desperate water-shortage-hit Far North and Kaipara communities.

Rob Forlong, Whangārei District Council (WDC) chief executive, said restrictions were likely for Whangārei - their implementation in large part so Whangārei could adequately provide water for Far North and Kaipara.

He said Whangārei's water supply was in reasonably good shape.
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Pending Whangārei water restrictions would likely mean watering gardens and sports field irrigation was cut out or cut back – depending on which level of water restriction was put in place.

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WDC has signalled likely level-two water restrictions, which means a ban on using sprinklers and other unattended garden watering. Swimming pools can still be filled, gardens freely watered with hand-held hoses and cars washed at this control level.

Meanwhile, the toughest, level-four water restrictions are now in place for Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Dargaville and Baylys Beach, meaning water can be used only for indoor drinking and washing essentials.

Forlong said water's basic life-giving essentials - such as drinking and public health needs - naturally took precedence in Whangārei – and around the North - over its use for discretionary purposes.

Other restriction implementation reasons included wisely managing the district's water resource, he said.

On Tuesday February 11, WDC held an extraordinary council meeting to delegate powers to Forlong as council chief executive to impose water restrictions.

Council Mayor Sheryl Mai told the meeting that Northland's current water situation was likely to become the new normal.

"We must be prepared for a future where water is even more important than it is today," Mai said.

Water restrictions were last imposed in Whangārei in 2010 – the year of Northland's last big drought.

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Andrew Venmore, WDC manager water services, said after the meeting trucking Whangārei water to other Northland districts was unprecedented during his almost 25 years in the sector.

He said likely Whangārei water restriction would happen, even without the district preparing to provide water for essential needs to other parts of Northland.

Water restrictions now would deal with 2019's low rainfall and help set Whangārei up, should there be another dry winter which extended into next summer.

"The 2019 year was the driest year since the construction of Whau Valley Dam in 1969. Only 816 millimetres of rain fell at Whau Valley, compared with the annual average of 1,591mm," Venmore told the council meeting.

Water trucked to the Far North will be taken from 1.3 million cubic metres of water stored in Whangārei's Whau Valley Dam – the second-largest municipal water supply in the region.

The dam is currently 69 per cent full.

Venmore said the Whangārei water would be piped to Fonterra's Kauri dairy factory through its link to the that water supply. Northland Civil Defence was in discussions to organise for trucks transporting water to the Far North to fill up with this water at the Kauri factory.

Whangārei district's currently using about 32 million litres of water a day – reasonably typical for the time of year.

Venmore said water carriers were currently Whangārei district's current biggest water users.

These were carriers from Whangārei filling up to distribute around the district, one day recently carrying 450,000 litres of water.