Ten per cent of residents have been breaking Hastings District Council's water restrictions, says Hastings District Council Three Waters manager Brett Chapman.
The council imposed a sprinkler ban after a very dry Hawke's Bay summer affected waterways.
Residents can still water their gardens and lawns by hand on alternate days. But the council's goal of saving 5000 litres per property looks unlikely after a survey by council staff showed many residents weren't complying.
"It's not a huge impost," Chapman said.
"In real terms it's running a hose for about 30 minutes."
Despite the widespread disregard for the council bylaw over several years, there were no prosecutions.
"There are a number of steps that have to happen before we even get to a prosecution and what we find is that most people - even those that are recidivist offenders - eventually comply with the bylaw."
Devices restricting water-flow could be placed on water supplies, he said.
"We can't create a public health hazard in doing that, but there a range of steps before we would be putting restrictions in place."
By the end of February more than 60 warning notices were issued by Council, many thanks to people dobbing in their neighbours.
But appearances can be deceiving. Some people water their lawn by hand, some have artificial turf, and some have their own water supply.
Businesses are not exempt – the council is targeting all unnecessary use of water but says some of its own lawns are essential.
"We are still irrigating our essential parks," Chapman said.
"That's around maintaining our parks for sports activities. In the summertime you've got cricket and softball.
"One of the reasons we do that is to minimise injuries – it is actually a statistical fact that sports injuries increase when you take water irrigation away from sports parks.
"The pending winter sports are starting to train and Super Rugby is already in flight.
"We are trying to balance sporting needs, but trying to ensure council is still doing its part to minimise the frequency of our watering, particularly around our sports parks."
Hawke's Bay's main water reservoir is its underground aquifer.
Napier and Hastings Councils account for about a third of the volume extracted from the aquifer beneath the Heretaunga Plains.
The balance is extracted by individual bore-holders such as businesses, schools, farms and clubs.
All bores are controlled by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which requires all users to conserve water to protect waterways.
"We have a number of farmers across the region who are currently on full restriction and so they cannot take water from groundwater or from surface water," chief executive James Palmer said.
"Depending on where a private bore is it faces some level of restriction. In the Tukituki catchment there are some bores that are now on reduced take.
"But we also have water-takes which are from deep groundwater, which don't have an immediate effect on those surface flows, where people are currently able to take their full allocation.
"The total rainfall we have had for both the Ruahine and Kaweka ranges is extraordinarily low.
"In the case of the Ruahine, it is 10 per cent of normal rainfall for January and February.
"In the Kaweka Ranges it is in the order of 13 per cent of normal.
"So that is an extraordinarily low level of water coming into our rivers and aquifer systems and so it is really important that everybody in Hawke's Bay does their bit."
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