The New Zealand Defence Force has been deployed to Kaitaia with tankers as Northland's water crisis deepens.
A team from the 2 Combat Service Support Battalion, normally based at Linton Military Camp in Palmerston North, was due to arrive in the Far North town this afternoon with three army trucks fitted with water tanks along with a repair wagon and mechanics.
Graeme MacDonald, spokesman for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, said the army team would be based initially in Kaitaia.
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They would deliver water to community facilities and marae with deliveries prioritised from an assessment of areas without town water supplies.
The team could later be redeployed to other areas around Northland.
The army was not taking over from existing water carriers, MacDonald said.
''If you've already ordered a tanker load, don't cancel it in the hope of receiving emergency supplies."
The Defence Force was the latest group to join the multi-agency response to Northland's big dry.
Others included local authorities, emergency services, Northland District Health Board, Government departments, iwi, the Northland Rural Support Trust and private sector organisations.
The first step by CDEM was to install emergency tanks in Kaikohe, Kaitaia and most recently Rawene, with the possibility of other towns to follow.
All town water supplies were currently holding out, thanks to close monitoring and tight restrictions, so the tanks had not yet been required.
Other projects involved the Far North District Council and iwi working to set up alternative water supplies into Kaitaia and Kaikohe.
The Kaitaia plan will see water piped from a bore at Sweetwater within weeks — consented since 2012 but never used despite previous water crises — to a roadside tanker truck-filling station, to take the pressure off the town supply and the dwindling Awanui River.
The Kaikohe plan could see water piped from Lake Ōmapere but that project still needs to overcome a number of obstacles.
The government has allocated $2 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to emergency water supply projects in a bid to get them moving.
MacDonald said the Kaipara and Whangārei districts were not facing the same challenges as the Far North but each had areas that were being closely watched.
Restrictions had been stepped up in Whangārei and Kaipara was planning a range of measures to supplement its town water supplies.
The Whangārei District Council, which had two major dams, was also providing reassurance to its neighbouring districts.
Iwi had been working to enable alternative water sources while Fonterra and Fire and Emergency NZ were ready to provide emergency water supplies if required.
The weekend's rain had lifted river levels by 10-50mm and boosted rainwater tanks, but it bypassed some areas and was not enough to solve the problem.
■ Help from Work and Income, Inland Revenue and others is available to Northlanders struggling with the financial impact of the drought.Go to www.nrc.govt.nz/droughthelp for more information.