Rain showers are coming to Auckland but residents will still need to take shorter showers and leave the outdoor hose on the hook as the city faces its worst drought on record.
January to April have been the driest months in Auckland's history, with dams supplying the city's water now 45.5 per cent full compared to a historical average of 76.7 per cent for this time of year.
This has led to Auckland Council bringing in water restrictions from tomorrow and asking residents not to wash their cars or water gardens with outdoor hoses and to take shorter showers.
Rogue water users can be hit with fines up to $20,000, although Watercare has said it will opt for an education-first approach.
Unfortunately, next week, the situation isn't likely to improve, MetService meteorologist Andrew James says.
"There could be a few light showers in the next few days, but we are not going to see the kind of relief that is needed."
The city can expect a top of 19C today with fine spells before cloudy highs of 19C over the weekend.
James said the Auckland Airport gauge showed a bit less than half of its year-to-date average rainfall this year.
"That has basically been due to persistent high pressure over the North Island since late last year," he said.
Currently an "intense blocking high-pressure system" is sitting over the north of the country.
One of the effects of this is "a downward pressure in the atmosphere", James says.
"That means any rain that does come in or showers that do develop can't get that height they need to get any decent accumulation."
"So we are not going to see any particularly heavy rain."
James says a southeast flow is coming in over the upper part of the North Island in the coming days.
"That does bring in a few showers to eastern regions, so places like Gisborne and the Coromandel Peninsula and Northland and parts of Auckland region.
"But in this direction, Auckland city and southern Auckland tend to be more sheltered but there could be the odd shower that sneaks in with that flow."
With no immediate end in sight, Aucklanders have been asked to leave their hoses alone.
Councillors earlier voted unanimously to bring in stage 1 water restrictions from May 16, banning outdoor water use for households and parts of the commercial sector.
You can wash your car or water your garden as long as you use a bucket or watering can rather than a hose, Watercare said.
To help Aucklanders evade the mammoth $20,000 fine or a stern telling-off, forecaster WeatherWatch.co.nz has given its own advice about conserving water.
This includes avoiding water blasting the house or driveway - leave that for later in the year. And don't go washing your car either.
Ensure dishwashers are fully stacked or on economy mode and make sure you are doing bigger laundry loads.
People should be taking shorter showers and if you need to have a bath, don't fill the tub as high as you usually would.
WeatherWatch also suggests taking a page out of your childhood and sharing the same bathwater with other family members.
Stage 1 restrictions also prohibit the watering of sports fields, plants or paddocks unless an irrigation system is fitted with soil moisture or rain sensors.
Car washes can only operate if they use recycled water.
"I want Aucklanders to remember that if we don't get it right and save water now, we will have to implement harder restrictions in the future and no one wants that," Mayor Phil Goff has said.
"I hope Aucklanders will understand the need to adhere to these measures, but if we have to, we have a range of enforcement options available for those who choose to ignore the restrictions."
Some commercial outdoor cleaning companies have complained the restrictions come at a time when they are trying to get back to work after the Covid-19 lockdown.
While most businesses were unaffected as their water use was indoors, those in the water blasting and cleaning industries had to put their hoses away.
"We only just made it through Covid-19, now it feels like we've been handed a death sentence," Murray Robertson, co-owner and director of Supercity Property Services, told the Herald.
They used water blasters for a range of professional cleaning services, disinfecting - much due to Covid-19 - and home maintenance including clearing gutters.
"My business relies on water to operate, in the same way a cafe or restaurant needs it to wash dishes, builders to make concrete or a hairdresser to wash hair. And I have 26 families relying on that water to do their jobs," Robertson says.
"It feels like they've just chosen us because the water use is outside and visible and easy to enforce but don't appreciate the impact this will have."
Watercare said the restrictions were needed after the total volume of water stored in city dams dropped below 50 per cent for the first time in more than 25 years.
It said rainfall was expected next week in the Hunua region around the city dams but it was much less than usually experienced at this time of year.
"We desperately need to preserve what's left. Please use water wisely and reduce wastage of this precious resource," it says.
However, one thing Watercare did want city residents doing was to keep washing their hands "to combat Covid-19".