The Far North District Council imposed water restrictions in Kaitaia last week, this time including a ban even on hand-held hoses, infrastructure and asset manager Andy Finch saying looming conditions were potentially unprecedented.
"We are aiming at managing the situation early," he said.
"We're doing a fair bit of work in planning for the worst case."
Restrictions had now been imposed on every council water supply except in Kerikeri and Paihia, which were being constantly monitored.
A new bore was to be installed at Ōpononi over the next 4-5 months, but the council was now looking at a temporary measure that could be activated within a month or so.
"Hopefully by the end of February we will be able to lift some restrictions in the South Hokianga," Mr Finch said.
Meanwhile the aquifer at Sweetwater remained the long-term primary source of water for Kaitaia. The council was negotiating to buy land, and had let a contract for the design of a bore head, pipeline and connection to the town's treatment plant. The land owner had agreed to provide temporary access to the bore so water could be piped to a containerised treatment plant, which would be used to provide bulk water for those on tank supplies who were currently buying water from the reticulated system in Kaitaia, Mr Finch saying that would "probably take some time to get across the line."
"A lot of people on tanks are surviving quite nicely," he said, "but we expect demand to increase substantially by the end of February. There is no doubt that demand has yet to peak, but if we can manage bulk supply better, that will ease pressure on the town's supply."
The council was also now asking the entire district to reduce water consumption, from reticulated supplies and tanks alike, by 25 per cent.
"If everyone reduces consumption we can get through this," Mr Finch said.
"If we don't, we will have big trouble later in the year."
He was now expecting that a permanent supply for Kaitaia would be available from the aquifer within 12 to 15 months. The council had a consent to take up to 5000 cubic metres a day, and would keep its existing consent to take from the Awanui River.
The bore in Te Maire Ave, which was installed by the Kaitaia Borough Council, had been assessed, along with other bores around the town. None of those sources were close to Sweetwater in terms of pressure or potential volumes. The water in Te Maire Ave was also non-potable.
The council was also talking to major water users around the district regarding how they might reduce consumption.
"We are not sitting on our hands and doing nothing," Mr Finch added.
A trial scheme aimed at finding and repairing leaks, at the council's cost, on private land would be trialled in Kaikohe, and zonal meters had been installed in Kaitaia in an effort to find where the 30 per cent of water that was being taken from the river but could not be accounted for was disappearing to.