The Far North District Council has imposed Level 4 water restrictions in Kaitaia and Kaikohe. Water may now be used only for drinking, cooking and washing. All outdoor use of water is banned.

General manager infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch said yesterday that Kaikohe's position was critical. Minimum water flows set by the Northland Regional Council at the Wairoro Stream, the town's primary source of water, had been exceeded, and the limits for the Monument Hill aquifer had been reached.

Without substantial rainfall over coming weeks, there was a very real prospect of the town's water running out.

The council would ask the NRC to allow more water to be taken from Monument Hill, but that would only bring temporary relief, and could result in even more serious shortages next summer.

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Meanwhile the council had taken delivery of three 30,000-litre water tanks for Kaikohe. They would initially be filled with water trucked in from Moerewa using a Fonterra milk tanker, to provide residents and businesses with water if there was a need to reduce water pressure or shut down the existing supply.

If that happened, residents would be asked collect water from the tanks.

Details of exactly how water would be distributed were still being worked through, and residents would be informed once planning was completed, but there was still a chance to avoid queues if the town significantly reduced water consumption.