Businesses throughout Napier fear the city could grind to a halt, should the city's water supply run out.

After a level four water restriction was imposed by Napier City Council earlier today, saying there was a "very real risk" water could run out "soon", Thirsty Whale owner and Napier businessman Chris Sullivan, who owns seven local businesses, said "quite a few of them" could be affected.

"From our point of view, if we haven't got water we close and I don't think we'll be the only business. Napier will come to a grinding halt. Accommodation, toilets – what do you do if you haven't got water – the city stops and this is our busiest time of the year.

"We've had no warning about this at all, and that's probably the biggest issue for me. You would have thought we would have had some notification but to be told half-way through a busy day that we are going to lose our water tonight is pretty unreasonable on the council's side.


''Unless it was a major breakage of a pipe, then I could accept it but if it's purely because they have under-estimated the usage I think it's pretty slack."

The Bluewater Bar and a function centre could also close if water ran out.

"And we've got a huge Christmas party tonight there as well."

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said water shortages were common and it was time the region had better infrastructure to help minimise the situation.

"One of the challenges we have in this region is that we always have a shortage of water at some stage over the summer, and that's why I was hoping Ruataniwha (water storage scheme) would help us to minimise. I just hope it doesn't impact local businesses, it will be really sad if it does.

"This region always suffers from water shortages in the summertime and it's something we should be doing better at, and we should have better infrastructure for and managing by now."

Rural and semi-rural businesses were not expected to be affected.

A Napier City Council spokeswoman said there were no commercial irrigators hooked up to our system.

"Napier is an urban area and the agricultural businesses we are aware of are our outside our water boundary."