A deepening water crisis has prompted the Northland Regional Council to further restrict the taking of surface and underground water, even those authorised by consents, in many coastal communities for the next two weeks.
Surface water flows and groundwater sources in coastal catchments around Whangārei and the Far North have plummeted to such low levels the NRC considers that a serious temporary water shortage exists in a number of places.
In Whangārei, coastal areas the water shortage direction covers include Ngunguru, Tutukaka, Matapouri North and South, Whangaumu Bay, Kowharewa Bay, Church Bay, Pataua North and South, Bland Bay, Oakura, Team Bay/Ngawai Bay, Moureeses Bay, Sandy Bay, Taiharuru Bay, Whananaki North and South, and Woolleys Bay.
Areas in the Far North district include Russell/Tapeka, Taipa, Coopers Beach, Cable Bay, Mangonui, Taupo Bay, Tauranga Bay, Te Ngaere Bay, and Matauri Bay.
Only water use for reasonable household needs and drinking by stock is permitted.
"Our main message is directed more on the general population living in those coastal areas. There's a large number of people at home and they potentially have a lot of time on their hands to do things like water blasting and cleaning their homes which are non-essential," NRC water and waste monitoring manager Alison McHugh said.
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Despite the prolonged dry spell across Northland, Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said there was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel as the region was expected to receive an estimated 25mm to 50mm of rain from mid next week.
"The first round of rain will be next Wednesday, right through to Sunday. It won't be quite enough to alleviate the long term dryness but it will still be beneficial."
Noll said a large area of low pressure in the Southern Ocean would contribute to next week's rain, as well as very strong winds, driving temperatures down.
MetService weather model shows 63mm of rain fell in Whangārei last month, 82.6mm in Kerikeri, 117.6mm in Kaikohe, 52.4mm in Dargaville, and 45mm at Kaitaia Airport.
Whangārei, Kaitaia and Dargaville did not receive any rain in the first two days in April while Kerikeri and Kaikohe each received 0.4mm.
According to the Niwa seasonal climate outlook for April to June, Northland's temperature will be above average, rainfall near average and soil moisture and river flows either below or near average.
Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said farmers in coastal areas using bores could be impacted by further restrictions but said they have been planning for the worst in advance.
Most farmers, she said, have dried off so their water requirement was a lot less as was that of freezing works, with reduced capacity partly due to Covid-19.
When drought was declared in Northland in February, Affco's plant in Moerewa and Silver Fern Farms' one in Dargaville were running at full capacity as farmers were getting rid of their stock.
Silver Fern Farms has revised its processing capacity and is doing between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of normal for beef while Affco regional manager for Northland Brett Innes said they were not far away from capacity.