Watercare has invoked emergency power to take an extra 15 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River to help battle Auckland's ongoing water crisis.

The dams feeding New Zealand's biggest city are only at 44.1 per cent full, compared to an average of almost 78 per cent for this time of year.

Watercare invoked emergency powers under section 330 of the Resource Management Act to allow them to take the extra 15 million litres of water.

Waitakere Dam at 42 per cent in April. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Waitakere Dam at 42 per cent in April. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Earlier today, Auckland mayor Phil Goff warned that the water crisis could get so dire the public could be forced to line up for water at hydrants.

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The shortage of water in Auckland's dams is due to a significant lack of rain, receiving less than half of its normal rainfall since November 2019.

The use of emergency powers under the RMA highlighted the urgency of the situation, Goff said in a statement this afternoon.

"This will increase immediate total production from the river to 165 million litres a day and reduce demand on the region's drought-hit dams," he said.

"If we do not get enough rain in winter and spring, Auckland will face a crisis in water supply this summer, with a drastic impact on households and industry.

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo / Michael Craig
Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo / Michael Craig

"I have instructed Watercare to seek supply from every available water source to head off a potential emergency."

Watercare's current resource consents allow it to treat up to 150 million litres of water a day year-round.

That number increases to 175 million litres between May 1 and October 30 when the river is above median flows, which it has not since October 2019.

Ahead of using the RMA powers, Watercare initiated discusses with five iwi, nine marae and the Waikato Regional Council.

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On May 16, Auckland Council implemented water restrictions across the city for the first time since 1994.

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Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said using they would only use the emergency powers on a temporary basis.

"We are negotiating positively with Hamilton City Council to use 25 million litres a day of the council's water allocation on a temporary basis," he said.

"This allocation is consented but not required by the council at this time.

"We are pleased with the discussions at this stage in the process but are continuing to look at all possible options."