Napier residents' work yesterday to conserve water appears to have paid off, Napier mayor Bill Dalton said.

"As I anticipated, the people of Napier have been absolutely fantastic and they've responded dramatically and there's been a very significant improvement in reservoir levels.

"If that trend continues for the next couple of days we'll be able to look at reliving some of the restrictions."

Earlier, the Napier City Council called on disgruntled residents not to "abuse" water workers as the city came close last night to running out of water.


In a post on its Facebook page late last night the council said: "We've had several reports of our water workers being abused tonight as they work. While we understand that some of you aren't happy with the water restrictions, please don't take your frustrations out on the guys in the frontline. They do a helluva job."

"Have your say on here instead (though go easy on the ad hominem attacks)."

Read more: Black water pours from taps in Napier
Water crisis could grind city to halt

The council warned last night that the city's water supply could run out overnight.

However, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton told the AM Show on TV3 this morning that the water situation was looking better this morning and should be back to normal in a few days.

"Quite frankly the water usage was excessive."

The "critically low" water levels which threatened the shut-down of Napier's water supply were blamed on residents' high water use - at nearly double the national average.

Mr Dalton said: "What happens is the reservoir recharges overnight, but on Sunday night, it didn't recharch as people didn't turn their sprinklers off overnight."

He said it would be "back to normal" in the next day or two."

Yesterday Napier residents were warned water could run out by last night, after a warm weekend left the city's reservoirs critically low. A total watering ban was also put in place.

In only the first weekend of summer, questions have been raised on how this happened.

Yesterday council director infrastructure Jon Kingsford said staff had been monitoring levels across the weekend, and Friday and Saturday levels had been okay.

"But on Sunday we took a big hit with our water-use pattern. One issue of concern is the high number of people leaving hoses on at night, which is having a hugely negative impact on water levels."

On whether there were checks in place Mr Kingsford said the council was "constantly monitoring the situation". When asked how water levels then become critical before residents were urged to take action, he said the council had acted quickly upon discovering the low levels.

"The normal pattern is that the reservoirs recover overnight. Last night that didn't happen. They were checked this morning, levels were critical, and we acted straight away."

Residents were warned on Monday afternoon if they did not conserve water, "we run the very real risk of running out of water at some stage soon. Maybe even tonight".

This was "an outside possibility if we don't get the response we need as we are using water faster than we can pump it into our reservoir from the [Heretaunga] aquifer", Mr Kingsford said.

"We are following the response plan, which is to advise our community and try and lower city usage as quickly as possible."

Yesterday Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the problem was Napier residents were using nearly double the amount of water per day than the national average in the lead-up to summer.

The average use per capita is about 300 litres per person, per day, while Napier residents were using 570 litres, he said.

"We are very close to nearly double the national average … we need to do something about it.

"It's just a case of trying to get people to use sensibly. If we were using the same amount of water as the New Zealand average per capita, we'd be fine."

Although temperatures reached the high 20s over the weekend this is just a hint of what's to come -with Hawke's Bay summers often breaking 30C.

MetService meteorologist Hannah Moes said Sunday was the hotter day, with Hastings reaching 28C in the early afternoon, while Napier was at 26C. Napier's Saturday high was 24C.

Ahead of the real summer, yesterday the Napier City and Hastings District councils launched a joint conservation campaign, aimed at delaying or avoiding region-wide water restrictions.

Water consumption lifts by up to 70 per cent in summer months, and, as yesterday's move shows, the supply is already struggling to cope.

Council staff were briefed on lowering water use around parks and reserves. Non-potable water is used in some areas to irrigate city grounds and gardens, so the town supply was not affected.

Napier's level four water restriction - which means a total watering ban - will be reviewed later in the week.

Yesterday's move is a contrast to the past summer, when Napier was one of the few areas around Hawke's Bay where water use was not restricted - until an E. coli scare at the Enfield Rd reservoir in February resulted in level two restrictions.

The council is currently undergoing an upgrade of its water network, for which rates were raised an additional 1 per cent, equating to about $502,000.

Although confident in the system, Mr Dalton said this upgrade would improve it in regards to yesterday's situation.

This comes days after chlorine was added to the city's water supply after an E. coli reading for the third time this year.

Napier is not the only area being hit with low water levels - the balmy weekend meant water users in New Plymouth and Wellington were faced with restrictions.

NO RESTRICTIONS - You may water gardens at any time but water wisely and conserve where possible
REDUCED WATERING - Hand-held hosing any time. Sprinklers and unattended hoses may be used each day between 6am to 8am, and 7pm to 9pm
RESTRICTED WATERING - Hand-held hosing only and only between the hours 6am to 8am, 7pm to 9pm
TOTAL WATERING BAN - No garden watering is allowed. Restrictions for other types of water use may also apply (for example washing cars, filling pools etc).