Water restrictions in Kaitaia have been bumped up to the second-highest level possible as the Awanui River, the town's main water source, continues to drop.
From Friday level 3 restrictions apply to all households and businesses connected to the Far North District Council's water supply, which means only buckets or watering cans can be used to water gardens or wash cars and buildings.
Garden hoses, sprinklers and irrigation devices connected to the town supply are banned, along with water blasting and filling swimming pools.
Some commercial water use is also banned such car washes that don't have water recycling facilities.
Far North mayor John Carter said the decision to move to Level 3 was not taken lightly.
However, with sustained dry weather over Christmas and New Year and only moderate rain forecast in coming days, the Awanui River would likely fall below minimum consent levels set by the Northland Regional Council within a week.
"Kaitaia is still recovering from the 2019-20 drought and has not received similar levels of rain experienced in other parts of the district. This has seen flows in the Awanui River fall steadily, closely tracking levels seen at the same time last year."
Level 2 water restrictions were imposed in Kaitaia and Kawakawa-Moerewa on December 23.
Carter said a second supply for Kaitaia, once completed, should see the end of summer water restrictions.
"Work on a new bore at Sweetwater near Kaitaia is progressing steadily and is due to be operational before next summer. This will permanently supplement supplies from the Awanui River, making Kaitaia's water supply far more resilient to prolonged dry weather."
Meanwhile, testing of a second bore drilled at Kaikohe's Monument Hill is due to begin this month.
The 120m-deep bore is expected to access more sustainable groundwater supplies and could provide up to 45 per cent of the town's summer water needs.
It is not yet known when the new water supply will be ready for use.
Kaikohe and Kaitaia were particularly hard hit during last year's drought with both towns almost running out of water.
■ Go to bewaterwise.org.nz for more information about current water restrictions and tips on saving water. To tell the council about water leaks or water restriction breaches phone 0800 920 029.