As we all know, it’s exceptionally dry here in Northland with rainfall at record low levels in parts of the region. District council-controlled water supplies are under extreme pressure and there’s no rain in sight.
For MPI Assistance
Below we have answered some of the regular questions we've been getting about water restrictions, drought and rainfall.
What about the Dam at Opanake?
The Dam of water at Opanake is part of our Resource Consent with the Northland Regional Council. To protect the health of the river, any water we take from Rotu (our main supply during drought conditions) has to be supplemented with water from the Opanake Dam. It’s not piped, but is instead released through existing creeks and tributaries until it meets the Kaihu River.
Historically there may have been plans for it to be a water source, however it currently exists solely as a condition of our resource consent to take water.
Can I put a water tank on my property?
Small, 1000L tanks can go on your property with no issues. Larger size tanks may be subject to rules in the District Plan or Building consent.
For existing houses, each situation is different, but the broad guidelines are a significant sized tank cannot be placed in the front yard, but may be placed in the side or back when it’s not over a council asset line. A small section may be constricted by tank size and the rules around impermeable surfaces (i.e. the amount of land you can have on your property that doesn’t allow water soakage).
Every situation would be different and best case would be owner supplies a basic proposal plan for Council to assess.
How much water is left? I heard there was only...
Water continues to flow down the Kaihu River, and our treatment plant is managing to supply the current demand for the community, and the more users can continue to conserve water the better we’ll be able to maintain. From the information we have from the Regional Council, the projection is that for the Dargaville supply, we will still be able to utilise the river flows until the end of April. The river flows are expected to be low, however, with permission from the Northland Regional Council, town supply will be prioritized even at lower flows after that. This is part of the preparation work we’re undertaking as forward planning as the ‘big dry’ period is set to continue. We’re constantly working with the Regional Council to manage our level within our consent, and look for water shortage directions (i.e. variations to the rules given the circumstances) to ensure we keep supplying water.
The water level flows are public information, and can be found at https://www.nrc.govt.nz/environment/river-and-rainfall-data/river-and-rainfall-data/ along with Rainfall data.
There are a few spots of rain coming across in the next 4 weeks, which may give little reprieve it won’t reverse the extended long period of drought.
What are Council doing to help?
We’re working with water carriers to find more options for water sources for them to carry, and assisting where possible to get consents issued by the Regional Council for new suppliers wanting to deliver water which should reduce the burden on those with tanks running low, and the water carriers struggling to meet demand.
An Incident Management Team has been established and are monitoring the situation.
Dargaville and Baylys ‐ Level 4 restrictions are in place. Kaihu River levels remain low and as mitigation measures deplete (topping up from the dam) we could see further restrictions. KDC have requested permission from NRC to continue to take.
Maungaturoto has gone to Level 4 as at February 21 2020, and most other water supplies will be at Level 4 by the end of February.
The Roading team have ceased all water based grading/rolling of roads, no parks, reserves or grassed areas are being watered, and we've stopped all mowing due to the increased fire risk.
Weed spraying is continuing to ensure they don't become a sight hazard along roads.
We reducing the capacity of water flows at drinking fountains and will look to minimise any excess wastage at public toilets.
What can I do? / How can I help save water?
Save any water you can! (Whether you have tanks or are on town water supply). All water saved now will help the region get through. Water saving tips are available at www.bewaterwise.org.nz
Although there have been periods of rain, the situation in Northland has reached a point where district council-controlled water supplies in some areas are under considerable pressure. District councils in some areas are implementing increasingly stringent water restrictions.
Current Restriction Levels
as at 3pm - 26 February 2020
Dargaville & Baylys Beach - Level 4 - No Outside Water Usage, household usage only
Maungaturoto - Level 4 - No Outside Water Usage, household usage only
Ruawai - Level 4 - No Outside Water Usage, household usage only
Glinks Gully - Level 4 - No Outside Water Usage, household usage only
Mangawhai - Level 4 - No Outside Water Usage, household usage only