The Far North District Council is urging residents, businesses and visitors to Paihia to reduce water consumption as it struggles to keep up with what mayor John Carter described as unprecedented demand.
The Paihia water treatment plant, which supplies Waitangi, Paihia and Ōpua, was running 24 hours a day, and was producing a record amount of treated water, but storage reservoirs that normally refilled overnight were failing to reach capacity.
"The treatment plant normally produced a maximum of 3200 cubic metres of water a day; staff had managed to push that to 3375 cubic metres a day, but there was no extra capacity left in the system.
Meanwhile, since Christmas Day, demand for water at holiday hotspots in the Bay of Islands had broken records.
"There has been a huge influx of visitors to the area, and the council wants to do all it can to support our tourism industry. However, we simply cannot produce enough water to meet current demand, so I am pleading with everyone to immediately reduce water consumption over the holiday period so we can avoid the need for water restrictions," Carter said.
"Please remind visitors to the Far North to flush less, shower shorter, turn taps off and only wash full loads of laundry. I also ask the many boaties visiting to consider not washing down their craft until they return home."
The council was doing all it could to reduce demand on the Paihia supply.
"We have redirected bulk water carriers to our Kawakawa-Moerewa and Kaikohe supplies to help us through," he added.
"These operators account for up to 5 per cent of current demand, and are struggling to keep up with orders to refill rainwater tanks. I know most operators are only delivering to those desperately short of water, and I want to thank them for working responsibly. This is a reminder that everyone needs to conserve water, not only those connected to town supplies."
He also asked that all residents and visitors immediately report water leaks by phoning the council on 0800 920-029.
"Water pipes break more frequently when we have very dry ground conditions, as we do now. Contractors have already repaired two significant water leaks in the Waitangi area, but we need your help to identify leaks quickly so we can prevent further water loses," he said.
The fire at Ahipara on December 29 had been a very clear reminder to the whole district of how dry conditions now were.
"That fire sent us all a clear message: until we get significant levels of rain, we need to conserve water and obey fire restrictions so we can all enjoy a well-deserved holiday break."