Whangārei residents will be banned from using sprinklers and there will be no public water for construction purposes as Northland's drought deepens.

And tighter restrictions could be on their way for the district soon if the region does not get significant rain.

Whangārei District Council has imposed Level 2 water restrictions from 8am on Wednesday and warns that Level 3 restrictions may not be too far behind.

WDC Water Services Manager Andrew Venmore said dam, river and groundwater levels have fallen in the Whangārei District and not enough rain to replenish them is forecast in coming months.


"As a result, Whangārei District Council is establishing Level 2 water restrictions in the Whangārei District," Venmore said.

For householders Level 2 restrictions ban sprinklers and, irrigation systems. For businesses they ban using sprinklers and/or irrigation systems on gardens, lawns and private fields, filling public fountains from water mains, taking construction water from water mains, watering sports fields except for those with approved watering plans. The council has already imposed higher levels of restrictions in its parks and gardens.

"Water restrictions will remain in place until water sources are sufficiently restored. Even when we get some rain it might not be enough to replenish the dam so restrictions will be in place until we are confident we have enough water for next summer,'' he said.

Venmore said introducing the restrictions was a conservative move, driven by the unusually dry conditions in the past 14 months that had led to the low river, dam and groundwater levels, combined with limited rainfall forecast for the coming months.

"If we have normal rainfall this autumn, winter and spring, we will go back to normal quite quickly, but our concern is that if we have drier than usual seasons ahead, the water we have in the Whau Valley Dam right now is next year's water as well,'' he said.

"Whangārei residents have responded well to our calls over the past month to save water, dropping use across the district by 6.6 per cent since February 12. This tells us that people are taking the message on board, but with the dam level due to fall to 60 per cent (this week), we need everyone to step their savings up a gear. Level 2 really just restricts a couple of water uses outdoors, but there are lots of ways people can save water indoors too.''

Whangārei's Whau Valley Dam is getting low as Northland's drought bites. Photo / John Stone
Whangārei's Whau Valley Dam is getting low as Northland's drought bites. Photo / John Stone

The news comes after Level 4 restrictions - the toughest possible - have been introduced in Kaitāia, Kaikohe, Omanaia-Rawene, Paihia-Ōpua-Waitangi and Kawakawa-Moerewa in the Far North and Dargaville in the Kaipara as those two districts have seen their water sources dry up in those areas.

Level 4 restriction limits water use to essential purposes only (drinking, cooking, showering and washing clothes). Outdoor use, such as watering gardens, washing vehicles or topping up private pools, is banned.


FNDC on Friday increased water restrictions for Kerikeri and Waipapa due to significantly reduced levels in two raw water sources, the Waingaro Reservoir and Puketotara Stream. Water restrictions in the two towns have increased from Level 2 to Level 3, making it illegal to water gardens or lawns with sprinklers, irrigation systems or hand-held hoses.

FNDC is asking residents to make a 25 per cent saving in their water consumption, while the Whangārei District Council is asking its residents to try to save 20 per cent of water use in an effort to prevent heavy restrictions being imposed in Whangārei.

For water saving tips and the latest information on Northland's water crisis see bewaterwise.org.nz