Aucklanders have significantly reduced water use as restrictions enter week 2 but authorities warn further cuts are needed to avoid a major crisis.
On Monday, daily water usage dropped to 411 megalitres - down from 433ML a week ago, a reduction of nearly 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The water savings come as the region introduced restrictions last Saturday for the first time since 1994, amid the driest start to the year on record with only about a third of the average rainfall dropping to replenish rapidly depleting storage dams.
Stage 1 restrictions are designed to drop overall usage 5 per cent with bans on outdoor water use - such as hoses and water blasters, and calls for all residents and businesses to make voluntary savings.
So far it appears to be working, with the rolling seven-day water use average as of Monday dropping down to 419ML - below the target of 420ML and down from 429ML a week ago.
"These figures are really reassuring and show that Aucklanders are making a conscious effort to reduce their water usage," a spokeswoman for water supplier Watercare said.
There was also between 30mm and 40mm of rainfall in the Hunua and Waitākere ranges over Sunday and Monday, keeping dam storage levels steady at about 42.9 per cent.
But despite the welcome rain dam levels still dropped nearly a percentage point from a week ago, and Watercare warns more cuts will be needed to avoid a major crisis.
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In June the target for a seven-day rolling average will drop to 410ML.
"If everyone does their bit to make small savings in their water usage, we are confident we can meet this target," the spokeswoman said.
Stage 2 restrictions are expected to be introduced when the dams hit 40 per cent, and will involve tougher savings requirements on businesses.
Watercare received 120 tip-offs about breaches of restrictions over the weekend, but was taking an "education-first approach" at this stage, and no fines had been issued, the spokeswoman said.
"Our team is calling the commercial customers and emailing residential customers to ensure they are aware of the restrictions."
Rogue water users can be hit with fines up to $20,000, but Watercare says it will be taking an "education-first approach".
There were 12 complaints about water misuse on Monday - down from about 50 to 60 a day last week - with more than 450 overall since restrictions came into force May 16.
These have all been followed up with emails to residents, and phone calls to businesses, but no fines have yet been issued.
The majority of the reports were for businesses using water outdoors but which in fact had been using rain tanks or non-potable water supplies - which is allowed.
"It's been great to discover many of the businesses who have been reported are actually doing the right thing," the spokeswoman said.
"We encourage these businesses to put up signage to acknowledge their support for Auckland's water-savings efforts and avoid misdirected complaints."
With the restrictions heavily impacting certain businesses already, particularly the exterior cleaning industry, many have criticised Watercare for a lack of system capacity to handle the shortage.
But chief executive Raveen Jaduram previously told the Herald the organisation was operating to drought response standards set by the region's leaders following the drought of 1993/1994, which allow for restrictions to be implemented in extremely dry periods.
A completely "drought-proof system" was possible, but it would be costly and Aucklanders needed to be prepared to pay, Jaduram said.
He warns dam levels may not get any higher than 70 per cent before next summer - well below the target 90 per cent, so if the big dry continues, the region could be in major trouble.
Auckland's water shortage
• Stage 1 water restrictions have been in force from May 16 and prohibit the use of outdoor hoses and water blasters unless for a health, safety, emergency or biosecurity reason; or if they use recycled water.
• Under stage 1 commercial car washes are also banned unless they use recycled water; and watering of sports fields, plants or paddocks is restricted to those with an irrigation system fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors. All businesses are urged to make savings of 10 per cent.
• Watercare further advises residents to keep showers short - 4 minutes or less, and only run the dishwasher or washing machine when they're full. No restrictions apply to hygiene measures, and people should continue regularly washing their hands consistent with Covid-19 messaging.