The low water level in the Heretaunga aquifer is making itself felt outside of Hastings.

Residents and businesses not connected to the town water supply are finding their bores and pumps unable to access the groundwater.

Harris Pumps & Filtration co-owner Michael Harris said he has had several callouts in the past week or so to the southern Riverslea, York, Tollemache and Maraekakaho Rd areas from people whose pump systems are struggling.

"It depends on their location, but for many there are pumps getting airlocked.


"The water is still there and may be dropping off by only a metre, but because a lot of those were original artesian pump systems designed around that, with the water table dropping, we are having to alter the pipework and in some cases put in different systems."

In addition, a lot of pumps were hooked on top of the well, which let in air and stopped the pump.

For some people the solution was to put an extra pipe down inside the bore to reach the water - others needed their pumps replaced.

He said problems started arising last week, and yesterday he took about 10 calls in the morning from residents whose houses had run out of water overnight.

"Most people are pretty understanding, although the people with businesses attached to that supply are a bit more stressed and we are trying to prioritise the work for them."

One person they had dealt with who had an irrigation bore had had to turn it off, he said.

He said his company had been in business about 50 years and this year's situation was unusual.

"We've had years in the past where the water level has dropped in a small location of houses - this is a whole different area of properties where the water levels have dropped further."

One business owner, Jimmy Macken, of Bareknuckle Backyard BBQ on Riverslea Rd, said he had to call for assistance when a pump developed an airlock.

"We got them to come urgently because we are a commercial operation. We had no staff working through the morning until the situation was sorted, we can't run a kitchen without water."

He said it was fortunate the water pump didn't burn out, as some others had, and all it needed was a pipe put down the well five metres deeper than it had been.

Apart from staff not coming in for part of the day he said the business wasn't affected.

"I have no issues with it, where we live it's part of the deal."

Hawke's Bay Regional Council environment officer Ian Lilburn said the water table was exceptionally low.

"We have had quite a number of bores we record showing record lows for the month of December.

"It comes down to a lack of rain to recharge the aquifer system."

He said the Heretaunga aquifer was mainly recharged by the Ngaruroro River and it was hoped rain in the hills in the next week or so would replenish it.

The dry weather also meant a lot of irrigators were working, but as long as they were complying with their consent conditions the regional council had no power to stop them, Mr Lilburn said.

The Ngaruroro River was running at 3200 litres per second, and a complete irrigation ban was not enforced until that had dropped to 2400 litres per second.

"If we do not get rain in the next seven to 10 days things are going to look quite serious as far as flows in the Ngaruroro River go.

"What's quite concerning is that these conditions are normally experienced in February so it's all a bit ahead of normal."

As of yesterday, MetService was predicting nothing more than a few showers through to next Saturday.