A decision by Dannevirke's John Barrow to plead guilty to charges brought by Horizons Regional Council has come as a surprise to the council's chairman.
"I'm a little surprised, but pleased the matter has finally been put to bed," Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said.
Mr Barrow, a Horizons regional councillor, admitted four charges of taking excess water for irrigation and one charge of failing to comply with an abatement notice, and although Mr Gordon said there was little else he could say until after Mr Barrow's sentencing in April, a more immediate concern for the council and farmers is the extremely dry conditions across the region.
"From what I understand from our compliance team, farmers have been very good this year in complying with their consents, but the pressure is going to go on as we're getting exceptionally dry now," he said.
Mr Gordon said it was easy to see how dry the region had become.
"My brother tried canoeing down the Rangitikei River and had to carry his boat down the rapids.
"The first time he's had to do that.
"I know there is relatively good feed around, with some farmers still carrying over surplus supplements from last year. However, the problem is the financial situation for dairy farmers because of their lower payout," he said.