Dirty cars are becoming a badge of honour in Whangārei as locals cut back on water use to help Far North residents on the brink of running out of the critical resource.
A trip around Whangārei over the weekend showed a big boost in the number of dirty vehicles with super-dusty rears.
Whangārei residents have cut water use by 2 per cent since Monday,
and reduced consumption by as much as 10 per cent on Sunday.
Whangārei District Council (WDC) chief executive Rob Forlong said he would like to see even more reductions.
The city's Whau Valley dam water storage is steadily edging down. As of Monday morning,
it was 65 per cent full.
There are no formal water restrictions in place in Whangārei, but on Valentines' Day the district council beefed up informal calls for its residents to take action and cut water use.
Level two restrictions are expected once the Whau Valley dam's level drop to 60 per cent full.
Forlong said Whangārei would further strengthen water use restrictions locally should the need arise, in order to be able to send essential emergency water to Kaikohe and Kaitaia.
Restrictions would go up to as high as level four – the toughest controls possible - if necessary, should the Far North towns' situation not improve.
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Whangārei's mercy mission to Kaikohe and Kaitaia to supply desperately-needed emergency water kicked in last week.
This was simply part of Whangārei demonstrating its tradition of helping others in need, as shown by kindnesses such as sending citrus to the South Island each year, Forlong said.
He said he was comfortable with sending Whangārei water north last week to help desperate Kaikohe and Kaitaia residents - even as his city faced the prospect of level two water use restrictions.
Six truck and trailer tanker loads of Whangārei water went to the Far North last week via Fonterra's Kauri factory to Kaikohe earlier in the week and Kaitaia at the week's end. About 160,000 litres went north in what, so far, has been a one-off mission to fill up emergency water tanks installed in the towns.
Forlong said Whangārei's Sunday
water use reduction of 10 per cent had been more pronounced than the week's overall 2 per cent reduction because schools and businesses were not open. Many of the people who came into town for schooling and business would be on tank supply at home.
He said the district council had been talking to Whangārei car wash businesses about ways they could reduce water use. A number of these were already using recycled water.
Level two restrictions are the second of four grades of water restriction with the toughest level four allowing water for essential use – drinking and washing - only. Level two controls still allow swimming pools to be filled.
Far North Mayor John Carter told the Northern Advocate last week his council's water infrastructure was clearly inadequate.
Forlong said Whangārei's water infrastructure was adequate. The Wairua River west of Whangārei would be added into Whangārei's water supply by 2028. There would also be increased water supply capacity through boosting reservoirs or enlarging the size of main pipes carrying water in parts of the district including Kamo, Three Mile Bush, Waipu, Poroti, Vinegar Hill and Maungakaramea.
Whangārei's new water treatment plant would be in action by Christmas if enough rain had fallen by then to fill Whau Valley dam. Otherwise it would be in action after the 2021 winter.