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Deepening drought conditions in the Far North are having side effects in areas other than urban water supplies.
Instructions have been issued to contractors to defer routine road maintenance work which involves the use of large quantities of water and to avoid vegetation clearance work where there is a risk of accidentally sparking a fire.
Roads and Stormwater Projects Manager Allan Shadbolt said today contractors had been asked to stop routine grading work on metal roads other than for sections of roads where maintenance work is "absolutely essential."
"The problem is that road surfaces can't be properly consolidated after grading without the use of water. Where maintenance work is essential, contractors are being asked to windrow the metal to the roadsides, rather than grading it back onto the carriageway, until such time as the drought breaks," he said.
"There is also a risk of vegetation fires sparked by roadside mowing operations. We have restricted vegetation clearance work to areas that are not yet tinder dry. This means there is a total mowing ban on all road verges north of Kaitaia and east of State Highway 1," he said.
Mr Shadbolt said the restrictions on the use of mowers applied to the State Highway network as well as to council roads.
The council apologised for any inconvenience the drought measures might cause. However with very low flows in streams and rivers and the extreme fire risk, there were no practical alternatives, he said.