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Level three water restrictions could be introduced for the first time in parts of Dunedin, if a dry spell continues to parch the Waikouaiti River.
Dunedin City Council staff will meet on Monday to discuss the dwindling flow of the river, which has already prompted the introduction of level two restrictions for residents in Waikouaiti, Merton, Karitane and Seacliff.
Level two restrictions prohibited the use of sprinklers, limiting residents to the use of hand-held hoses only between 8pm and 8am.
However, council water operations team leader Gerard McCombie said the restrictions - in place since last weekend - appeared not to be working.
"Over the last four days the [water] demand has been trending up and, looking at the river flows, they have been trending quite strongly down."
Otago Regional Council resource consent conditions required the council to enact water conservation measures when the river's flow dropped below 150 litres per second, to protect aquatic life, he said.
By 7am yesterday, the river's flow had dropped to 110 litres per second, ORC measurements showed.
With fine weather forecast for the next few days, Mr McCombie urged residents to redouble their efforts.
Council records dating back to 1996 showed water restrictions had never gone beyond level two, and never been introduced in April, Mr McCombie said.
"I have been here 30-odd years and I can't recall it going beyond level two.
"That normally seems to do the trick.
"Level three would be uncharted territory for us," he said.
Council water and waste services network manager Rezaul Haque said staff would meet on Monday to consider the latest river flow and consumption data, before deciding whether to increase water restrictions to level three.
Level three restrictions introduced tighter rules for businesses, other organisations and residential users, including prohibiting the use of sprinkler and hose irrigation systems and restricting other uses of hoses to between 8pm and 8am.
Mr McCombie said the council did not have the large storage capacity of bigger cities, and was dependent on river flows and the consumption of users.
"We are very much in their hands.
"We don't have the ability to drop the pressure or anything like that."