The Far North District Council is establishing a supplementary source for Kaitaia's water supply, which will be used by those carting water to rural properties that are not on the reticulated supply, and is talking to the owner of a private bore.
General manager infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch said the council had last week signed an agreement to take water from the aquifer bore it had already invested in, and had a resource consent to draw water, at Sweetwater, west of Awanui, which it would use to supply bulk water carriers. Contractors began building a pipeline from the bore to a roadside access point on Thursday, while the council was borrowing a portable water treatment plant from Watercare, in Auckland, to render the water potable.
The council expected to be supplying aquifer water to carriers in about three weeks, easing pressure on Kaitaia's main source, the Awanui River, and was talking to the owner of another bore with the potential to serve as a second supplementary water source for Kaitaia.
Mr Finch said the council was pleased to have found an alternative source for bulk carriers.
"Our Kaitaia water system provides a back-up supply to rural households across a large area," he said.
"We provided 1444 cubic metres of water to bulk water carriers in January, compared with 80 cubic metres in September. This volume has increased every month, and it will continue to climb as more household tanks run dry."
There was still a water shortage in Kaitaia, and the Level 4 restriction would remain in place until further notice.
"The Awanui River is flowing at historically low levels. We were forced to partially dam the river last week to ensure there was enough water at the treatment plant intake pipe," he said. He urged households and businesses to continue to reduce their water usage.
"We are grateful to Kaitaia for reducing its water use by more than 14 per cent from February 4-10, but we need people to make further savings so we achieve our water use reduction target of 25 per cent," he said.
More on the Far North's water crisis pages 5 and 12.