Water restrictions could be considered for Rotorua if lingering drought conditions continue.
The region is facing its fourth dry season in a row, with a local farmer saying he was not sure whether it was global warming at play or just a blip in the weather pattern.
But a meteorologist says weather events like this will only become "more common and more extreme" in the coming decades.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has put a new water management system in place as water levels in streams across the region rapidly drop.
The Ngongotahā Stream recorded its lowest water level in 50 years.
Rotorua is sitting in a level two water restriction in the new system - meaning a water shortage is "impending" and restrictions by both regional and district council are a possibility.
The region entered 2021 with lingering drought conditions from long-term rainfall deficits going back to early 2019.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council water shortage event manager Steve Pickles said drought conditions in the region were becoming more prevalent year on year.
This was a challenge for the council as he said it had never had to consider annual drought conditions and how to handle them so frequently until the last few years.
In response, the council created a dry weather water management plan which allowed them to supersede consent conditions and limit the amount of water take available for councils, orchardists and farmers to protect the region's waterways.
Three alert levels have been created for when the region was facing a dry weather event.
Level one is when water availability is normal but stream and soil moisture is dropping and there is low rainfall.
Level two is when a water shortage is impending as a result of reduced stream flows and groundwater levels, and level three is a full water shortage event with drought conditions and risk to waterway health.
Rotorua is sitting at level two, while the rest of the Bay of Plenty remains in level one.
However, Pickles said the Bay of Plenty as a whole was heading towards level two.
Rotorua changed levels after council staff noticed stream levels rapidly dropping.
"There is definitely potential for further restrictions. It all depends on rainfall."
Federated Farmers Rotorua and Taupō provincial president Colin Guyton said things were beginning to dry out, with patchy rain in some places and a "bleak" outlook in others.
Typically, farmers expected a bit of rain in the summer then downpours in March but the rains were now arriving towards the end of April, putting "a lot of pressure" on the sector, he said.
Prolonged dry periods were becoming more common, with about four dry seasons in a row, but he said it was too early to say whether this would become a trend or the next 10 seasons would be great.
He said he was not sure whether this was global warming at play or just a small pattern.
"We will learn to adapt regardless. We've got no choice."
Rotorua Lakes Council three waters services manager, Eric Cawte, said Rotorua's water situation was different from other large cities as it relied on underground springs that produced a consistent amount of water regardless of the season or weather conditions.
He said the issues faced by Rotorua were the limits on resource consents, and the ability of local pumps and treatment systems to keep up with daily demand from consumers.
Rotorua people were currently using on average about 35.45 million litres of water every day this month.
However, the daily demand was well within the council's limits and pumping capability.
This is likely due to consumers being more mindful of their water usage and the rainfall the city has had over recent weeks.
"Water restrictions are not contemplated at this stage, however, depending on consumer usage which can often be driven by weather patterns, restrictions may be considered."
Niwa meteorologist Chris Brandolino said the Bay of Plenty, especially in the Tauranga and Western Bay areas, was facing very dry conditions and the region would likely only get drier in the coming days.
He said many areas were still recovering from last year's "exceptionally" dry summer season.
As a result of climate change, the general trend was that weather events like this would become "more common and more extreme" in the coming decades, he said.
This was already showing with prolonged periods of minimal to no rainfall followed by extreme downpours resulting in flooding events, he said.
Some dry parts of the country were set to see a touch of respite as it entered February as a "pattern shift" was forecast and some heavy rain could be expected in the first week to 10 days, he said.
Sweltering conditions to settle in the Bay this week
MetService meteorologist Tahlia Crabtree said "warm and breezy" summer weather was expected in the Bay of Plenty this week but temperatures would drop a little by the weekend.
Temperatures were looking to get up to 29C and 30C in both Tauranga and Rotorua at some points this week.
"Although by no means record-breaking, it'll definitely be warm."
The weather will change on Thursday night as cool southeasterlies usher in cloud to the region ahead of the weekend.
"There will be a "noticeable shift" from the summery feel from earlier in the week," she said.
Tauranga's hottest day on record was 33.6C in February last year, while Rotorua's was 30.2C in the same month.
Rotorua Lakes' Council's summer water conservation tips
• Don't cut your lawns too short. Raise the lawnmower blades 5cm. This will leave more shade for your lawn, help with water retention and create deeper roots for healthier grass.
• Become a leak detective and keep an eye out for water in unusual places.
• Save water by only running your dishwasher when you have a full load. Use eco or water-saving mode.
• Make the most of water in your garden by using mulch to trap moisture. Water earlier in the day or in the evening so water doesn't evaporate.
• Use a watering can to keep your garden hydrated and a bucket and sponge to clean your car.
• A family of four can use 40 litres of water a day by leaving the tap running while brushing their teeth. Turn the tap off while you brush your teeth.