Water restrictions have ramped up in more Far north communities as the region's Big Dry tightens its grip.
Far North District Council yesterday increased water restrictions for Kerikeri and Waipapa due to significantly reduced levels in two raw water sources, the Waingaro Reservoir and Puketotara Stream.
Water restrictions in the two towns have increased from Level 2 to Level 3, making it illegal to water gardens or lawns with sprinklers, irrigation systems or hand-held hoses.
The use of open hoses, trigger nozzle hoses, or water blasters to wash vehicles, windows, buildings or paved areas is also banned, as is filling private swimming pools from council water supplies.
FNDC general manager, infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch said that like elsewhere in Northland, drought conditions have significantly affected Kerikeri's water supplies.
Normally, the Waingaro Reservoir, which is owned and operated by the Kerikeri Irrigation Company, provides 65 per cent of Kerikeri's water. Puketotara Stream provides the remaining 35 per cent.
"Water levels in the Waingaro Reservoir are well down on normal and we may soon have to draw from deeper in the reservoir. Unfortunately, this water is oxygen-poor and requires more treatment. This will force us to rely more heavily on Puketotara Stream, which is already nearing the limits where we can still legally take water," Finch said.
He is asking all businesses and households connected to the council supply to reduce consumption by 25 per cent to avoid the need for tighter water restrictions.
"We need significant rainfall over several days to recharge these water sources.
"Unfortunately, forecasters are predicting little rain for weeks or even months."
The tighter restrictions come after Level 4 restrictions — the highest possible - have been imposed in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Omanaia-Rawene in the Far North and Dargaville in the Kaipara.
FNDC is asking residents to make a 25 per cent saving in their water consumption, while the Whangārei District Council is asking its residents to try to save 20 per cent of water use in an effort to prevent heavy restrictions being imposed in Whangārei. There are no water restrictions in Whangārei at this stage.
Finch said Kaikohe and Okaihau have achieved a 31 per cent reduction in water consumption, proving the 25 per cent target is achievable.
"Most water is used in the bathroom, toilet and laundry, so households and businesses can make significant savings by flushing less, showering shorter, washing full loads and turning taps off."
Meanwhile, a burst water main in central Kaikohe cut water supplies to parts of the town yesterday morning.
Contractors worked to repair the break and supplies were restored after several hours.