A region-wide approach to the future of wastewater management in Hawke's Bay is being sought by Napier-based regional councillor Neil Kirton after Wednesday's downpours threatened more discharges into the Ahuriri Estuary.
Napier City Council, which is already committed to spending more than $20 million over the next decade to improve the city's stormwater system, warned of the possibility of discharges late Wednesday morning.
It told residents to limit toilet flushes, baths and showers as the stormwater system struggled to cope with between 60mm and 100mm of rain from the previous 24 hours.
The system was reported to be coping late afternoon with no discharge necessary and signs the most serious rainfall had passed.
But the council said it would continue to advise people to not flush toilets unless necessary, as it monitored the situation.
The earlier post said the system had been "overloaded", and added: "If we all work
together to reduce the amount of wastewater we're producing, we hope to avoid an emergency discharge into the estuary.
"We're asking all of Napier to please keep their household wastewater load as low as possible for the next 24 hours," it continued.
"That means letting your yellow mellow (eeek!), short showers and not running washing machine or dishwasher cycles.
"Don't rush to flush and we'll keep you updated on progress throughout the day," the council advised.
Toilets, showers, dishwashers and washing machines all drain into the city's wastewater network, which is also affected by infiltration of stormwater.
The council said in a media statement: "If an emergency discharge is carried out, this should prevent wastewater backing up and overflowing into city streets and properties."
The last time such a discharge happened was during the peak of four days of rain in the first week of September last year, and Kirton said the city now had warnings being issued after what he believed was a "modest" event in comparison.
"We just can't go on like this, and we need to have some decisions made," he said.
"This is deja vu, we were talking like this after the last election three years ago, but nothing's happened."
New Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise was not immediately available to comment.
In recent campaigning she put stopping discharges into the estuary and restoring the city to a guaranteed clean water supply at the top of her priorities.