Save water

Reduce your water use

Our goal is to reduce water consumption across the district by 25%.

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You can help by following these guidelines:

  • Only wash clothes when you have a full load. A washing machine uses about 150 litres of water per wash
  • Use the dishwasher for full loads only. Each load uses 40 to 80 litres of water
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth
  • Put the plug in the sink when washing vegetables and don’t leave the tap running
  • Mulch your garden with grass clippings or compost. Mulching prevents up to 70 per cent of water loss through evaporation
  • Put a half full soft drink bottle in your toilet cistern to reduce the quantity of water you flush
  • Flush the toilet less often
  • Use less water in the bath. A bath can use up to 80 litres of water
  • Take shorter showers. A shower uses about 8 litres of water a minute
  • Soak your garden once every few days rather than giving it a quick drink every night. Light watering makes the plants shallow rooted, and most of the water is wasted through evaporation. Soaking the ground every few days encourages the roots to go deeper into the soil to seek out moisture
  • Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge to avoid running more water than you need for a glass of water

Visit Be water wise for tips how to save water. 

Water restrictions

Our current situation is severe. Water levels are very low across the district with no significant rain predicted by forecasters for the next few weeks or even longer. All Council water supplies are now on water restrictions. To avoid more restrictions or interrupted water supplies, we need everyone to immediately reduce their water use by 25 per cent, whether on public supply or private rainwater tanks.

Level 4 water restrictions are in place for the below water supplies:

  • Omanaia-Rawene
  • Paihia-Waitangi-Opua
  • Kawakawa-Moerewa
  • Kaikohe
  • Kaitaia

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Level 3 restrictions, which means no use of hoses or sprinklers, are in place for Opononi-Omapere.

Level 2 restrictions are in place for the other Council water schemes at Kerikeri and Okaihau.

Water restriction exemptions

Users connected to Council water supplies can apply for an exemption to water restrictions if they are adversely impacted. Exemptions have stringent rules for water use, such as using sprinklers only at night and providing weekly water meter readings to the Council.

You will have to reapply for exemptions if water restriction levels are increased. To apply, use the exemption form(PDF, 70KB) and email to watersalliance@fndc.govt.nz or drop into the nearest Council Service Centre. A decision will be made and the applicant notified within 10 working days.

Water media releases

 

25% water reduction - how are we tracking?

See how your town is tracking towards its 25% water reduction target.

 

The period 6 Jan-2 Feb includes supply to bulk water carriers that draw water from Kaitaia, Paihia, Kerikeri and Moerewa, which will account for a small percentage of town use.

The period 4 Feb-10 Feb represents domestic use only and excludes bulk water carriers. The spike in use in Kerikeri and Paihia is likely due to the tourist influx to these areas for Waitangi Day.

Questions and answers

What's the situation?

Are we running out of water?

The last 12-month period has been one of the driest on record. Rivers across Northland are beginning to hit the lowest flows recorded in 50 years and some rivers are at low flow levels a full eight weeks earlier than recorded during the drought of 2009-10. NIWA has classified the Northland Region as being in Drought. 

This means the waters sources (rivers and streams) that supply our towns are seriously deprived of rain and most are now running at very low levels. Many of our groundwater sources (aquifers and springs) are also at low levels. A lack of rain over winter means these have not recharged as they normally would.

Will the taps run dry?

The Council is working hard to ensure this does not happen. In the worst-case scenario, the community would have at least 2-3 days’ warning of any interruption to supply.

Residents will not go without water – emergency supplies will always be available, though people may need to fill containers from centrally located tanks.

Why hasn’t the Council prepared for this?

We do have several infrastructure projects planned or already underway that will help the district cope with its growing population and also with the impacts of climate change.

However, the drought we are currently experiencing is an extraordinary weather event. Many rivers and streams in Northland are running at their lowest levels in 50 years. Building water infrastructure designed to cope with this type of event – which happen rarely – would be prohibitively expensive for ratepayers. The Council must consider the business case and impact on rates of all infrastructure projects. 

What can I do on Level 4 restrictions?

Level 4 restrictions mean all outdoor water use is banned. This includes watering gardens and lawns, vehicle washing and filling swimming pools of any kind or size. 

Indoor water use must also be reduced. The best way to do this is to flush toilets less often, take shorter showers, only wash a full load of clothes and only run dishwashers when full. Never leave taps running and fix any leaks.

Why have there been so many Council water main breaks recently?

Drier ground conditions are causing water pipes to break and we have had water main breaks at Opononi, Rawene and Kerikeri in recent weeks, which we have repaired as quickly as possible. Please tell us immediately if you see a water leak by phoning 0800 920 029. 

Looking ahead

What is Council doing to find new water sources longer term?

The current infrastructure has proven robust for most weather challenges in the Far North to date. However, we are working to improve the resilience of our supplies across the district.

We plan to make the Aupouri aquifer a permanent water source for Kaitaia and are committed to completing this project next year.  We have completed work on a new water bore for our Opononi and Omapere supply. The Smoothy Road bore is due to supply customers within days.

Will the rivers run dry?

Consent limits are imposed by the Northland Regional Council to prevent the water take leading to dangerously low levels in rivers and streams. The Council cannot take water from a river or stream once the waterway has dropped a certain level.

A dry river kills plant and marine life and degrades the local ecological cycle. 

We have received reports of some small streams and creeks in the district running dry but none that are sources for public water supplies.

What if the drought became so extreme that water ran out?

If major water sources ever ran dry, we would officially be in a water emergency. In such cases Civil Defence and government agencies assist councils to provide communities with essential water for drinking and food preparation.

Can I install a rainwater tank on my property?

There is nothing to prevent households or businesses connected to Council water supplies from installing rain water tanks on their properties. In most cases installing a tank up to 35,000 litres in size will not require a building consent. In some situations, an Earthworks Permit may be required, and a Resource Consent may also be needed for properties in Coastal Hazard areas. Each situation will be different, so please go to Our Services to find out more. 

About bulk water tankers 

Why do bulk water carriers take from our public supply?

Many rural and remote households rely on rainwater tanks for their domestic water supply. If their tanks run dry due to lack of rain, the only choice they have is to buy treated water for drinking, cooking and hygiene.

The Council is obliged to help these households get the water they need by allowing bulk water carriers to deliver potable water to them. In order to meet Ministry of Health requirements, this water is sourced from Council water treatment plants.

How does the Council monitor water usage in households on rainwater tanks?

We do not monitor water usage of households and businesses not connected to the public supply. We do know these households are careful water users – research shows they use about 20 per cent less water than households on town supplies.

Are bulk water carriers allowed to fill private swimming pools?

We are entitled to set appropriate conditions on anyone using our bulk water filling points. We have instructed Far North bulk water carriers to not accept orders intended to fill private swimming pools while the district is under drought conditions.

Does the Council make a big profit from letting bulk water carriers take from the public supply?

Bulk water carriers pay the same rate for water as any other user on our public supplies –$2.94 per 1,000 litres. We have metered connections at our filling points and bulk water carriers are charged accordingly. A typical tanker carries 10,000 litres so the Council receives roughly $30 for each tanker that leaves the fill points. 

Why are bulk water carriers allowed to take water when there are water restrictions?

Many Far North households are reliant on catching and storing rainwater for their domestic needs. In drought conditions their water tanks are more likely to run dry.

Water restrictions are intended to reduce demand on public supplies. This helps ensure supplies continue to serve all users under drought conditions, those on the network and rural users reliant on rainwater tanks.

Which public supplies do bulk water carriers take water from?

Currently, water is being supplied to bulk water carriers from filling points at Kaitaia, Te Haumi, Moerewa and Waipapa. This means that the Kaitaia, Paihia, Kawakawa and Kerikeri treatment plants are meeting demand from these bulk water carriers as well as from connected households and businesses.

We regularly review demand from bulk water carriers and order them to source water from more suitable water schemes elsewhere if needed.

How has the Council reduced the impact of bulk water carriers on public supplies?

We closed the Kaikohe filling point to bulk water carriers in October 2019. This was done to reduce demand on the town’s water supply as Kaikohe’s water sources are particularly vulnerable to dry conditions.

Do bulk water carriers take a lot from our public supply?

The Council closely monitors how much water is taken from each supply by bulk water carriers. Based on the latest meter readings, bulk water carriers only make up about 10 percent of total demand.

How does FNDC monitor how much bulk water carriers take?

Each bulk water carrier has a dedicated water meter recording their water take. Normally, these meters are read each month. Due to the current drought, meters are being read weekly.

My town supply

Kaikohe

Where does Kaikohe water come from?

Seventy per cent of Kaikohe’s water is sourced from the Wairoro Stream. The remaining 30 per cent comes from the Monument Hill aquifer – an underground water supply accessed via a bore. Monument Hill cannot supply all of Kaikohe’s water needs. 

What is Ngawha Prison doing to help?

Ngawha Prison normally uses about 16 per cent of water produced by the Council for Kaikohe. The prison reduced its consumption by no longer using Council-supplied water for prison horticulture projects, and by reducing prison shower times, lowering water pressure across the site, and disabling outside water taps. 

Low water levels in the Wairoro Stream have also triggered an agreement with the Council for the Northland Region Corrections Facility to begin trucking water in from outside the region for the site. The prison is now only supplied with 50 per cent of its normal water take from the Kaikohe supply. This will reduce to zero if the Council can no longer take water from the Wairoro Stream. 

Is the Council trying to find new water sources?

We are currently investigating several supplementary supply options for Kaikohe and hope to announce a preferred option very soon. 

Kaitaia

Where does Kaitaia water come from?

The primary source of water for Kaitaia is the Awanui River. A secondary, much smaller supply is the Okahu Stream. 

Why can’t Kaitaia use water from Kauri Dam?

Water held by the Kauri Dam is of poor quality. At times the dam water is so poor the Kaitaia plant cannot bring it up to drinking water standards. Water from the dam may be taken for non-drinking use only under an extreme emergency. 

What about the Aupouri aquifer?

We are working to build and install the necessary reticulation and treatment facilities required to use water from the Aupouri aquifer (also known as Sweetwater) as a secondary source of raw water for Kaitaia. The infrastructure needed to get that groundwater connected to the Kaitaia town supply is extensive. However, this infrastructure work should be completed next year. 

What is Juken NZ doing to help?

The Juken NZ wood processing mill uses up a quarter of the water the Kaitaia Treatment Plant produces. However, as the current water crisis has evolved, the mill has reduced its water use significantly.

How much unaccounted-for water does Kaitaia lose?

All large-scale water schemes have water loses or unaccounted-for water. Kaitaia’s scheme loses a little more than average. To combat this, the Council has a continual programme of pipe renewal and is also working hard to detect and repair leaks.