The Waikato town of Morrinsville is facing a water crisis after a pipe burst at the local reservoir.
The leak was discovered on Saturday afternoon and water supplies are now described as "critical".
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Residents of the 6000-person town are being asked to only use water for "essential" purposes, flushing and showering and using washing machines only when necessary.
Watering gardens and filling pools are banned.
Matamata-Piako District Council spokesman Eion Scott said even when the leak is fixed, the town could still run out of water as the reservoir refills.
"That involves people not using any [water unnecessarily] - including outdoor use - and to limit their personal use."
Matamata-Piako District Mayor Jan Barnes says there's plenty of ground to cover and they don't know where the leak is.
"There's about 17km of piping there, and we need to establish where the break is and to repair it."
She says it's unclear how long it could take to resolve the problem.
A small industry-owned bore and a council owned bore are currently being used to supply water to the town. If necessary, a tanker will be brought in.
Civil Defence workers are currently on standby to go door to door and inform residents of the water restrictions.
In a Facebook post, Matamata-Piako District Council has recommended that schools and preschools in Morrinsville not open on Monday as a precaution.