The Far North District Council last week imposed sprinkler bans in Kaitaia and Kerikeri, and strengthened existing restrictions in Kaikohe, in response to high levels of water consumption across the district's eight reticulated water schemes, and Niwa predictions that dry weather will continue well into this month.

Level 2 restrictions, prohibiting the use of automatic or unattended garden hoses, sprinklers and irrigation devices, took effect in Kaitaia and Kerikeri on Tuesday, while Level 2 restrictions already in place in Kaikohe were lifted of Level 3, meaning only buckets may be used to water gardens and wash buildings, cars or boats.

Filling private swimming pools from council water supplies is completely banned.
General manager — infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch said that despite showers over the past few days bringing some relief to parts of the Far North, the need to conserve water remained urgent across the district.

"Our Kerikeri and Kaitaia water treatment plants are working at maximum capacity to keep up with demand, and recent rain has had little impact on consumption. We are asking all residents to take steps to reduce consumption now," he said.

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"The situation in Kaikohe is particularly serious. The recent rain will have no immediate impact on the Monument Hill water bore, which is dangerously low, and will not substantially increase flow rates in our primary water source, the Wairoro Stream."

"Our Kerikeri and Kaitaia water treatment plants are working at maximum capacity to keep up with demand, and recent rain has had little impact on consumption. We are asking all residents to take steps to reduce consumption now."

Mr Finch extended his water conservation plea to residents and businesses with rain water tanks. Most bulk water carriers sourced water from council supplies to refill empty tanks, which had a significant impact on overall demand. Therefore he was asking those who bought water not to use it to fill swimming pools or for irrigation.

He warned that if there was no reduction in demand the council would be forced to prevent bulk water carriers from taking water from the Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Kerikeri treatment plants.

Mr Finch urged all Far North residents and businesses to adopt simple conservation measures to help avoid the need for tighter restrictions, such as only washing clothes when there was a full load, turning taps off while brushing teeth or shaving, putting the plug in the sink when washing vegetables rather than running the tap, and mulching gardens with grass clippings or compost (which could prevent up to 70 per cent of evaporation).

* More conservation tips can be found at www.waterwise.org.nz
* Restriction breaches or leaks should be reported to the council on 0800 920-029.