Despite the Hastings District Council's public caution to reduce water usage, its own sprinklers were on in the middle of yesterday morning's rainfall.

The sprinklers, on Hastings St South outside Hawke's Bay Opera House, water a small section of plants on a roadside kerb. A council spokeswoman said the sprinklers were preset to ensure the plants in the gardens got enough water and did not die.

"It is the most cost-effective way of managing watering, rather than sending staff out to turn them off and on with every passing shower.

"They are set to work at night - to make the most of the water rather than having the sun dry it off - so that this one was on during the day could indicate that the particular system's batteries are low and need replacing," she said.

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From 8am to noon yesterday, Hastings had 1.8mm of rain, reported Metservice.

The council spokeswoman said that was after several dry months and was not enough to sustain the plants.

- The council website provides water-saving tips: http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/waterconservation