As the hot and dry weather continues Auckland Council has revealed it is looking into employing milk tankers to help fill the water tanks of parched rural residents.
The council estimates there are about 50,000 households on rainwater tanks across the region, putting huge pressures on water cartage services after over a month without any decent rainfall - and none forecast until next week.
Water carrier companies have been overloaded with requests to fill tanks, with one company reporting a waiting list well over 200 households long, and some residents reporting nearly two-month wait times.
The Herald has profiled desperate families surviving on minimal water - including one with a 2-week-old baby - and even people having to move out of their homes after their tanks ran dry.
The council and Watercare have today announced new measures to assist those on tank supplies including expanding on the water collection service running at four community locations.
"We're conscious of the challenges rural residents are facing and are providing to those on tank water supplies," Mayor Phil Goff said.
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Some council leisure centres were offering showers and other assistance to locals as well.
The council was also looking at its community facilities like pools and leisure centres, libraries and community venues, as well as working with sports clubs, schools and rural fire stations, to find places that can help with water distribution.
"A big thanks to the communities who are helping each other and those who have made small changes in and around their homes to save water already," Goff said.
Niwa is predicting Auckland could set a new record on Saturday for its longest dry spell, passing the region's previous record - a 39-day run recorded when the North Island last saw widespread drought conditions, in 2013.
A dry spell is defined as consecutive days with less than 1mm of rain.
Auckland Emergency Management general manager Kate Crawford said the first phase would see four community centres being used as hubs for filling containers for domestic use.
Water will be available Friday at Warkworth Town Hall, Wellsford Community Centre, Helensville Library and the Te Puru Community Centre in Beachlands.
Auckland Council-owned leisure centres in Franklin, Rodney, Waitākere and Stanmore Bay are also offering shower facilities to those that need them.
The next phase involved distributing 10,000 litre water tanks to locations - yet to be determined - for filling up of domestic water containers.
The council was also working with private suppliers of large tankers from the country's milk tanker fleet to see what tankers can be made available to assist.
"The high-level logistics around commissioning vehicles from the milk tanker fleet are obvious – working in with their primary role and in support of private suppliers – so we're working through the best way to action this now," Crawford said.
"Importantly, the focus of this initiative will be to work with private operators, as alternative filling points, to reduce waiting times."
Watercare has 11 water tanker filling stations in Auckland and currently all were open 24/7.
Watercare said Auckland's metropolitan water supply was stable with no restrictions in place.
However, it was encouraging people to use water wisely, especially on hot days when they tended to use more than normal.
Leisure centres available for showering and water filling
• Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre, Pukekohe
• Jubilee Swimming Pool and Aquatic Centre, Pukekohe
• Whiteside Pool, Waiuku
• Massey Park Pool, Papakura
• Stanmore Bay Pool and Leisure Centre, Stanmore Bay
• Albany Stadium Pool, Albany