Water restrictions across Hastings have been raised to a level three, with Hastings District Council warning stronger enforcement will be needed if progress is not made.

Earlier this week Hastings District Council announced water restrictions might rise again unless there was a "big reduction" in water use.

A sprinkler ban was put in place for Hastings in November, as record high water use was putting a strain on the pumping system for the Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere network.

The closure of the Brookvale Bores after the Havelock North gastro outbreak contributed to this.

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After community effort, in early December water restrictions were eased, with level three restrictions dialled back a level.

However today the council have announced the restrictions will be raised back to level three in Hastings, Flaxmere, Bridge Pa and Havelock North, in the wake of pockets of homes across the district losing supply during peak times.

This means a total ban on sprinklers, but residents can use hand held hoses to water their gardens every second day, between 6am and 8am, and 7pm and 9pm.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule asked residents to "please use only what you need".

"If you can get away with half an hour, then stop after that," he said.

If there were not significant savings as a result of the level three restrictions, council would "have no choice" but to move to level one, which means no outdoor water use at all.

Acting Chief Executive Craig Cameron said, "we have people at the end of the water lines who are getting no water at all during peak times. This is unacceptable.

"The pumps are not keeping up with demand and while we are working as fast as possible to bring more pumps on-line, in the meantime we have no choice but to force a drop in demand."

Council is suspending the watering of most sports fields and gardens, apart from those with their own separate water supplies and those that have to be done for health and safety reasons.

Splash pad hours in Cornwall Park, Flaxmere Park and Camberley will be reduced to 11am to 5pm.

Council staff will be on the streets in the evenings "reinforcing and educating" residents on the new restrictions, "and we are hopeful everyone will pull together and support these restrictions in order to benefit everyone," Mr Cameron said.

"If we don't see significant progress we will have to consider stronger enforcement measures."

The issue was not limited to Hastings, with Napier warning its residents this week that its pumps were struggling to keep up with supply. Central Hawke's Bay has had restrictions in place since before Christmas.