Recent rain has given Northland farmers and growers much-needed relief, but a significant spell of dry weather is forecast up to September and that will put pressure on reticulated water supplies.
Kerikeri has had 309.8mm of rain in the past four weeks, Whangārei 229.6mm, Kaikohe 209.4mm, Kaitaia 143.4mm, and Dargaville 99.4mm which has brought soil moisture level closer to normal.
However, Niwa has predicted soil moisture level to be normal or below normal in winter for the upper North Island with between 20 and 30 per cent less rain up to September.
"It's important to remind people that even though it's raining outside, that doesn't mean the drought is over. Northland needs several months' more rain to get back up to normal and to fill up rivers and dams," Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said.
"The level of water in rivers and streams we depend on for drinking is still quite low at this time of the year. Rain was most persistent around Kerikeri between the 24th of May until the beginning of June but the west coast of Northland is a little bit drier."
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Niwa models show soil moisture level in Whangārei, Kaikohe and Kerikeri is better than Kaitaia and Dargaville for this time of the year.
In the Far North district, level 3 water restrictions for Kaikohe-Ngawha and Kawakawa-Moerewa were reduced to level 2 from Friday last week, meaning all bar one of the Far North District Council's eight water supplies will be on level 2 restrictions.
Omanaia-Rawene will remain on level 3 water restrictions.
Level 3 water restrictions are in place throughout Whangārei.
Wilsons Dam was 61 per cent full at midday yesterday while Whau Valley Dam was at 59 per cent.
Alter-Natives Nursery and Landscaping doesn't need plants watered and owner Phil Grindle said overcast weather also meant plants did not dry out.
The 4ha site on Kioreroa Rd in Whangārei uses recycled water from the nearby wastewater treatment plant.
"We can't catch rainwater because of our large area but when it rains, we don't have to irrigate. It's also our telltale sign that the planting season is starting," he said.
Between 130mm and 200mm of rain in June is typical throughout Northland and Whangārei, the eastern hills, north of the district and the Tutamoe ranges are on track to receive near normal rainfall for the month.
Most other areas have received about 80-100mm for the month.
In Kaipara, level 2 water restrictions are in force in Dargaville and Glinks Gully while Maungaturoto, Mangawhai and Ruawai continue to stay at level 4 at this stage.
Kaipara District Council spokesman Ben Hope said streams have recharged rapidly over the past week and have sustained the flows but groundwater recharge and dam recovery was slower and being reviewed for the rest of the district.
"Rainfall is still about 20 per cent less than our median rainfall for May 2020, and it's looking like it's set to continue. The lack of rainfall in the catchment areas has been a real concern for this time of the year."
Hope said commercial users have minimised their water use during the drought and continued to reduce and improve how they used the precious resource.
With careful management, he said those businesses that relied on water have been able to continue employing and functioning, while balancing the communities' need for water.
Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Nicola Deveraux said farmers were getting by with grass growth after having to spend on supplementary feed, especially on palm kennel extract, over the dry spell.
"If we get nice, steady rain over winter then we'll have a good spring and summer."
According to the Northland Regional Council, the region needs 900-1000mm of rain before October to avoid water shortages next year.