The worst of Napier's water shortage appears to be over, with level four restrictions lifted yesterday after an "overwhelmingly positive response" from residents.

The restrictions were put in place on Monday afternoon, when Napier residents were warned water could soon run out after a warm weekend left the city's reservoirs critically low.

By yesterday morning, reservoir water levels had "significantly improved", and were up to 80 per cent by midday, allowing restrictions to be eased back to level two by 4pm.

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Unlike level four - which is a total watering ban - level two restricts residents to use hoses and sprinklers only during 6am and 8am, and 7pm and 9pm, on even days of the month for even numbered houses, and on odd days for odd numbered homes.

At a press conference yesterday, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said residents had "responded magnificently" in reducing their water take. The council had also reduced its water use - though it faced flak for some sprinklers, and watering sport fields on Monday.

He said water restrictions in summer were not unusual but the timing of them being needed in the first weekend of summer was "probably unique".

With little rainfall in November and high temperatures over the weekend, "we were sort of hit with this double whammy".

Residents' water conservation on Monday meant the reservoirs had still been recharging yesterday at 6am, which is when they would typically begin falling.

"I think that demonstrates a great uptake from our community and shows that the community is prepared to muck in and be part of the solution once they're informed,"
council director infrastructure Jon Kingsford said.

With a week of hot weather still to come, he said it was unlikely council could remove all restrictions.

Some residents had expressed frustration over the shortage, particularly as it appeared to happen without much warning from the council.

In response, Mr Dalton said the council realised there was pressure on the reservoirs, and had planned to launch a joint campaign with Hastings District Council on Monday to urge people to restrict water use.

"Unfortunately over this weekend, it absolutely hit us and on the Monday, when we discovered the reservoirs were so low we had to act immediately."

Hastings District Council yesterday introduced level two water use restrictions, which apply to all homes which source water from a public supply.

Council's works and services committee chairman Kevin Watkins said these low level restrictions should help ensure higher level restrictions were less likely to be imposed further into summer.

"But that, of course, is going to depend a lot on the weather. We do encourage everyone to plan their watering to fit within the restrictions and to get the most out of it for their plants," said

Council is reviewing its watering programmes for its parks and gardens in the same way that gardeners are being asked to.

Napier's restrictions would be reviewed regularly.

The council will be holding a scheduled meeting of the Audit and Risk committee tomorrow, with an update on the water supply to be held in public excluded.