The Far North District Council is hoping they won't be needed, but three 30,000-litre water tanks have been installed on Kaitaia's A&P showgrounds, adjacent to the Te Ahu carpark entrance, as a precaution against the town's water supply running out.

Murray Soljak (Civil Defence Emergency Management) said Fonterra had undertaken to cart water from Kauri, outside Whangārei, courtesy of the Whangārei District Council, and was likely to make the first run before the end of the week. (Privately-owned tankers were "flat out" and would not be available).

"We don't expect an emergency supply to be needed by then, but we need a trial run so we can work out the timings for each trip," Mr Soljak said.

The council, which was paying for the tanks, would also provide containers for those who needed to take water and did not have their own.

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Mr Soljak had no real idea how long each 90,000-litre delivery would last, but expected people to initially take more than they needed.

"People will be a bit anxious for the first two or three days, and might overestimate how much they need," he said.

"After a few days they will have a better idea, but even so the tanks will need refilling on a very regular basis."

People would be invited to take water in their own (clean) plastic containers, if they had them. Otherwise they would be welcome to use those provided by the council.

"We're not planning to provide every home with multiple new containers though," he added.

CDEM was also organising volunteers trained in providing "psycho-social first aid" for any Kaitaia folk who were not coping.

"A lot of people won't be looking forward to collecting water in this way," he said, "and we want to do everything we can to help them to adjust to a situation that could be upsetting for them. We're hoping the need for an emergency supply doesn't eventuate, but if it does we will be ready to make the best of what will be a bad situation."