Water restrictions have been lifted everywhere in the Far North as rain returns rivers to normal levels — except in Kaitaia where the Awanui River remains vulnerable.
The Far North District Council will revisit its decision to keep Kaitaia at level 2 restrictions, which ban the use of sprinklers and automated irrigation systems, later this week.
Level 2 restrictions were lifted on Friday for the council's Kawakawa-Moerewa and Kaikohe-Ngāwhā water supplies.
That decision came after flows in Kaikohe's Wairoro Stream and Kawakawa's Tirohanga Stream stabilised above water-take consent levels set by the Northland Regional Council. Demand for water has also decreased.
However, infrastructure general manager Andy Finch said flows in the Awanui River, the primary water source for Kaitaia, had not responded so well to rainfall.
''While levels have increased following rain, they drop again rapidly during dry weather,'' he said.
As a result a ban on irrigation systems and sprinklers would remain in force in Kaitaia at least until the end of this week.
"While there has been some rainfall in Te Hiku, it has not been enough to replenish dry soils or fully recharge the Awanui River. Weather forecasters are not confident we will see significant rainfall in coming weeks. For now, we think it best to continue our ban on sprinklers and irrigation systems that rely on the council's Kaitaia supply," he said.
Work continues to establish alternative water supplies in Kaitaia and Kaikohe, the hardest-hit towns in the 2019-20 drought.
A new water supply from a bore at Waimamaku was completed last year for the drought-prone Opononi-Ōmapere town supply and a new treatment station and reservoir were built for Rawene-Ōmanaia.
Work to drill and commission a new bore at Kaikohe's Monument Hill is continuing.
Far North residents, and the Far North District Council, dodged a bullet this summer when a switch to the La Nina weather pattern over the tropical Pacific prevented a repeat of summer 2019-20.
According to Northland Regional Council data, summer 2020-21 was drier than normal overall with areas north of the Bay of Islands receiving 70-90 per cent of their median summer rainfall and areas to the south about 50-70 per cent.
In February, however, most of the Far North received double its median rainfall, recharging water tanks and boosting soil moisture levels to above average for the time of year.