Construction work has begun at Sweetwater, where the Far North District Council plans to develop a bore site to supplement the Awanui River, its main source of water for Kaitaia.
McMillan Drilling is currently sinking a production bore, which will be followed by two monitoring bores within the next couple of weeks.
The next project milestone, due in November, will be the appointment of a main contractor to complete the project, including building a pipeline from the bore to the water treatment plant in Okahu Rd, in Kaitaia.
Water is scheduled to begin arriving from the aquifer before the summer of 2021/22.
Meanwhile the council says a back-up water supply for Kaikohe could be operational before Christmas.
It plans to establish a second, 120m bore at Monument Hill to access a more sustainable supply of groundwater, with drilling and testing to confirm water quantity and any impacts on surrounding groundwater sources expected to begin within weeks.
A council spokesman said contractors would install infrastructure to link the bore to the Monument Hill water treatment plant once tests had been completed and consents had been obtained.
Depending on test results, the bore could be operational before Christmas.
While a very dry winter last year, followed by a dry summer, finally forced the council to take aquifer water provided by Te Rarawa and NgaiTakoto, for Kaitaia, Kaikohe was in the greatest danger of running out of water altogether.
That prompted a plan to take water from Lake Omapere, described at the time by mayor John Carter as one of the most challenging engineering and logistical projects the council had ever undertaken, requiring the collaboration of more than a dozen agencies across the government, private and iwi sectors.
The infrastructure, including a temporary 2.8km pipeline from the lake to the Taraire Hills water treatment plant, was duly installed, but was never used, credit being given to the community's response to the call to conserve water, and rain that finally fell in the nick of time.
The council had worked with Far North Waters, the Northland DHB and water treatment consultants to ensure the treatment plant could remove toxin-producing bacteria if an algal bloom occurred in the lake, DHB approval being received in April, but while the water was declared safe to drink, the unpleasant odour and taste, caused by geosmin, a naturally-occurring organic compound, could not be removed.
The infrastructure was decommissioned last month.