Ruapehu District Council says it cannot be sure when drinkable water will be restored to Raetihi after diesel contaminated the town's water supply.
Raetihi has been without its regular water supply since Wednesday when its mains water system was shut down, after up to 15,000 litres of diesel leaked from a tank at Turoa skifield into the Makotuku stream, which feeds the town's water supply, the weekend before.
Ruapehu deputy mayor Don Cameron says knowing when the water will be restored is like aiming at a moving target.
The council has had to call in water tankers and emergency portaloos, but Mr Cameron said on Sunday that Raetihi residents were taking it upon themselves to deliver fresh water around the town.
Mr Cameron says the community has rallied and is in good spirits and the council is grateful for the reaction of residents.
Council chief executive Peter Till said on Sunday that restoring the water supply would take until at least 16 October, when both the town reservoir and the stream should have been cleaned.
He says residents should not be concerned if they see residual diesel, as well as mud and sludge that has built up in the reservoir, in the storm water system.
Mr Till says residents will be kept fully informed at each stage of the process and some will be asked to assist by turning on outside taps.
The council is working on restoring the supply but says when water is first turned on it will not be safe to drink at that stage.
Clean up will cost millions, says council
Ruapehu District Council says cleaning up the diesel will cost millions of dollars and local businesses which have been forced to temporarily close will be compensated by the council.
"Each day we find some of the infrastructure that maybe will have to be replaced, but we do know it's going to be millions, and it is an insurance claim," says Mr Cameron.
Mr Cameron says the council is asking affected businesses to come forward to provide evidence of their losses.
He says the Department of Conservation has not yet discovered any negative affect on wildlife, and officials from the Ministry of Health will be arriving to inspect the leak in the coming days.