Do not be fooled — that's the message from the Northland Regional Council to people who think the recent rain may be enough to ease up on water restrictions in place across the region.
Many coastal aquifers are reaching their lowest groundwater levels on record and they will keep on dropping in some areas during the next few months.
Whangārei District Council says it may need to elevate the current restrictions from Level 2 to 3 before long, despite noticing quite a drop-off in water use when the days started to cool down and a bit of rain fell on gardens.
Level 3 allows people to use a can to water gardens and a bucket to wash vehicles, windows, buildings and paved areas.
Use of a sprinkler, irrigation system, hosing gardens, and filling swimming pools from mains supply are not allowed.
Whau Valley Dam was 57 per cent full while Wilsons Dam was at 66 per cent.
"There is no significant rain forecast in the next two weeks, and all the indications are that we may be heading into a dry winter. If that is the case, you could say we are already using next summer's water, so we all need to be very conservative with its use.
"Unfortunately it is likely that we may need to move to level 3 restrictions before long," WDC water services manager Andrew Venmore said.
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NRC water and waste manager Alison McHugh said Northland needed a lot more rain and would feel the effects of drought for some time yet.
"There's been a bit of rain, but don't be fooled. It's great there's been some rain, but it's been little more than a drop in the bucket when it comes to our river, stream, aquifer and dam levels.
"The fact is, it's still parched out there in most of Taitokerau and the effects of this drought may continue well into next year if we continue to get below average rainfall.
''We're going to have to keep thinking about water conservation through winter to lessen the impact on the region as we head into next summer," she said.
McHugh said some areas have had enough rain to at least make things look a bit better, such as green grass growing, but others like the Far North have had only a few millimetres – certainly not enough to make even a visible difference.
Groundwater, rainfall and other freshwater levels remain at, or close to, record lows and water restrictions are still in place throughout the region, many of them at the highest possible level where water can be taken for essential use only.
Water shortage directions limiting water use to "reasonable household domestic needs and stock welfare needs" are still in place for the entire Awanui river catchment, 16 coastal areas in the Whangārei district and seven coastal areas in the Far North district.
The coastal aquifers covered by the water shortage directions in Whangārei are Ngunguru, Tutukaka, Matapōuri, Whangaumu Bay, Kowharewa Bay, Church Bay, Pataua North, Pataua South, Bland Bay, Ōākura, Teal Bay, Moureeses Bay, Sandy Bay, Taiharuru Bay, Whananaki and Woolleys Bay.
In Far North district, the areas are Russell/Tapeka,Taipā, Coopers Beach/Cable Bay/Mangonui, Taupo Bay, Tauranga Bay, Matauri Bay and Te Ngaere Bay.