Far North District Council is aiming to tap into new Government-funded water storage for Kaikohe to permanently supply the mid north town.

Far North District Council (FNDC) mayor John Carter said his council had already been working with the Government and Northland Regional Council (NRC) on using the water from storage to be built in the North through the region's $30 million Provincial Growth Fund project.

Carter said FNDC wanted to set up a scheme like had been developed for Kerikeri in the 1980s. This had been developed with the dual purpose to permanently provide water for horticulture and Kerikeri township. The scheme currently provides 65 per cent of Kerikeri's drinking water.

NRC is locally managing the Government-funded regional water storage project and has identified land in the mid north for water storage. Land around Kaikohe - where water use is being restricted to essential use only - is part of the identified area.

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NRC said the water storage project was primarily designed for supporting horticulture but would also be available to help existing municipal water supplies and greatly reduce exposure to domestic water restrictions.

Carter said it was too early to say when water from the yet-to-be-built PGF-funded water storage near Kaikohe would be available.

"But it can't come soon enough," Carter said.

He said Kaikohe's water supply infrastructure was clearly inadequate.

Kaikohe's water comes predominantly from the Wairoro Stream near the town's Taraire Hills water treatment plant. This normally supplies about 70 per cent of the town's water. An aquifer at the town's Monument Hill reserve normally supplies water.

Three 30,000 litre emergency water supply tanks have been installed in Kaikohe.

Just-installed Kaitaia emergency water tanks
Just-installed Kaitaia emergency water tanks

About 90,000 litres of water from Whangārei is going north to Kaikohe daily. Fonterra tankers heading north from the company's Kauri plant to pick up Far North milk head north with Whangārei water and return south to the factory with milk.

Land around Kaikohe is among NRC-identified water storage-suitable mid-north land that also includes Ohaeawai and Waimate North.

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Meanwhile, land south of Dargaville in Kaipara has also been identified for water storage as part of the region's $30 million project.

Kaipara mayor Jason Smith said his council would also be looking to tap into his district's new water storage facility for municipal supplies to supplement Dargaville's existing Kaihu River supply.

Smith said Dargaville's water supply infrastructure was also inadequate.

Dargaville was the first place in Northland to go to the toughest level four water use restriction.

Its water needs were increasing. The township was growing and Baylys Beach, which was also growing very rapidly, had now been added into the area it supplied reticulated municipal water to.
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Maungaturoto was also put onto level four restriction at the end of last week.

Dargaville and Maungaturoto are the district's two biggest supplies.

Smith said the water storage-sourced water was more likely to be tapped into for temporary emergencies rather than permanent use. Primary production would remain the main focus of water storage scheme use.

Kaipara has five reticulated council water supplies. Dargaville/Baylys Beach and Maungaturoto – are both on red alert level four water restriction. The other three are at Glinks Gully and Ruawai along with a small Mangawhai facility.

Smith said Northland's lack of rainfall would become more normal into the future in a climate change-affected world. Rain that previously fell across the year would increasingly
arrive in deluges. This made water storage essential into the future.

Elizabeth Soal , IrrigationNZ chief executive said the dry summers Northland now repeatedly experienced made water infrastructure resilience even more crucial.

Soal said multi-purpose water storage that included municipal supply had not been used widely across New Zealand.

"Municipal water supply hasn't been common in the past, however it has been done, it has been successful and is where we need to go in the future," Soal said.