Water restrictions are starting to trickle in around Northland as the region welcomes hordes of visitors keen to take advantage of warmer weeks ahead.
Level 2 restrictions are already in place in Dargaville, Baylys Beach, Kaitaia, Kawakawa, and Moerewa due to low flows in catchments and little chance of significant rain, until at least a week after New Year's Day.
Use of unattended garden hoses, sprinklers and irrigation devices by households and businesses connected to council water supplies are banned until further notice.
Far North District Council acting chief executive William Taylor said water restrictions were a reminder to all residents to use water sensibly over summer and the need to adopt simple conservation measures such as shorter showers, flushing toilets less often, washing on a full load, turning off taps while brushing, and fixing leaks.
Kaitaia's Awanui River and the Tirohanga Stream in Kawakawa have not recovered well from the 2019/20 drought and while both water sources were running above minimum consent levels, he said flows were trending downwards which was concerning.
"We know demand for water is likely to increase over the Christmas and New Year period, so as a precaution we need to reduce demand now to avoid the need for even tighter restrictions in coming weeks."
Taylor said as the holiday season population put pressure on water supplies, residents and business owners were urged to remind visitors, friends and whānau of the need to conserve our precious resource.
He said work to develop secondary water supplies for Kaitaia and Kaikohe – the two communities most seriously impacted by the recent drought – were progressing well.
A bore site at Sweetwater near Kaitaia is due to supplement supplies from the Awanui River before next summer. A second bore at Monument Hill in Kaikohe should be operational soon and could meet up to 45 per cent of the town's summer water needs if required.
In Kaipara, increased visitor numbers during summer impacts on water supplies in Dargaville and Baylys the most.
"While water levels in our rivers are moving closer or have returned to their expected levels, many bores and aquifers take longer to recharge as the water must move through the ground," Kaipara District Council said.
From the information supplied by the regional council, KDC said it would be able to utilise river flows to supply Dargaville until the end of April next year.
"We're working with water carriers to find more options for water sources for them to carry, and assisting where possible to get consents issued by the regional council for new suppliers wanting to deliver water which should reduce the burden on those with tanks running low, and the water carriers struggling to meet demand."
KDC's roading team has ceased all water-based grading/rolling of roads, no parks, reserves or grassed areas are being watered, and has stopped all mowing due to increased fire risk.
No water restrictions are currently in place in Whangārei but the council is urging people to conserve water.
The Whau Valley Dam which supplies the city was sitting at 93 per cent and Wilson's Dam was at 90 per cent.