Hawke's Bay Regional Council is being asked to explain why Hastings has to potentially spend millions of dollars upgrading its water systems when there's plenty of water available for the district.
Tests by Hastings District Council revealed its water pumps at Porthsmouth Rd and Wilson Rd in Flaxmere had an effect on the nearby Irongate Stream. Similarly, water pumped from its station at Brookvale in Havelock North had a direct link to the Mangateretere Stream.
The council's works and services committee met yesterday to discuss water conservation and management measures, presented by its water supply manager Dylan Stuijt.
The council is under pressure to make sure its water sources do not diminish waterways or other water users, otherwise it could face more restrictive conditions from the regional council, which is responsible for approving consents to take and pump water.
Mr Stuijt said the consent for the Brookvale water pump was due for renewal in 2018.
"The regional council has indicated it would not grant a consent to continue obtaining water from Brookvale Rd area at its current rate.
Given there's clear evidence Hastings council's pumping is influencing the stream, it would be very difficult to defend any position other than to reduce the overall take from this site," Mr Stuijt said.
The Eastbourne and Lyndhurst Rd bores could be used to support Havelock North with "a number of network modifications", he said.
The Flaxmere bores could also be "swapped" or replaced by the one in Frimley, which would take over supplying water to the suburb.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was worried about the costs involved with swapping water bores and upgrading pumping stations.
"We need to get the regional council along here to explain why we have to do this. When I look at the implications for spending millions of dollars on upgrading bores, I am struggling to understand why we have to do this when we're told there's plenty of water available," the mayor said.
"Other than doing a good thing of conserving water, I can't understand why we have to do this."
The committee agreed it would ask the regional council to present at its next meeting.
Water restrictions across the district were introduced before Christmas and Mr Stuijt said the public had complied by reducing use, which was around 50,000 sq m per day, below the 70,000 sq m per day recorded during previous droughts. The council fielded calls from residents dobbing in neighbours and rural irrigators they thought may be breaching restrictions. People also complained about the council's irrigation practices, particularly in parks and gardens. Many related to faulty timers which were repaired.
"Our parks team face the tension of keeping sports grounds soft and safe to use while being seen as efficient water-users," Mr Stuijt said.
"ACC also places pressure on the council to ensure its parks do not cause injury to its users."
Hastings water restrictions remain in place with no immediate signs of relief.
People can use sprinklers and hand-held hoses around homes from 6am to 8am and 7pm to 9pm only.
Restricting use to those times has resulted in a significant drop in water pressure.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council can impose "no take" water bans on non-domestic users but public water users could continue unimpeded.
There is now a bigger focus on district and city council to reduce urban water use.
Waimarama has a total irrigation ban to ensure there's enough water for firefighting capability.
Esk and Whirinaki were using high levels of water, breaching consent limits, but use dropped dramatically after restrictions were publicised.