Last month the Northland Regional Council ordered the Far North District Council to reduce Kaitaia's water consumption by 25 per cent by Friday last week, failing which it was instructed to impose Level 4 restrictions.

That would prohibit all outdoor use of water, the only permitted uses being for drinking, cooking and washing.

Kaitaia has not responded, however. Consumption over the week starting January 20 fell a paltry 1 per cent, the over the following week rose 1 per cent.

District Council CEO Shaun Clarke said the authority was making a huge effort to raise awareness of the need to conserve water in Kaikohe and Kaitaia, where the Awanui River continued to fall, and the town's failure to respond was not for a lack of trying.

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"There is no shortage of energy on the council's part," he said.

Four staff members had been taken from their regular roles to work full-time on managing the crisis around the district, and three 30,000-litre tankers were about to be deployed to deliver water where it was most needed. Alternative sources for that water, including outside the Far North, were being sought.

The council was also looking at producing a video appeal using prominent people from outside the council to appeal directly to their communities to reduce consumption.

He did not agree that the council had left its response to the water shortage too late. Level 3 restrictions had not been imposed in Kaitaia until January 16, but Level 2 restrictions had been put in place in Kaikohe on October 25 last year, followed by Level 3 on November 19.