Water Restrictions

1. Overview

Horowhenua District Council issues water restrictions to conserve water when river levels drop due to dry weather conditions, or when demand for water increases beyond the capacity of the water treatment plant to safely supply water that meets National Drinking Water Standards.

Water restrictions range from Level 1 to Level 4, with Level 1 being the least severe and Level 4 being the most severe.

2. When are the restrictions put in place?

Council draws water from rivers and groundwater under resource consents. The conditions of these consents and the demand for water set the trigger levels for Council to issue water restrictions.

Water restrictions in Levin are triggered by dropping river flows in the Ohau River. Horowhenua District Council implements Level 1 restrictions for Levin when the river flow is less than 2500 litres per second (L/s), Level 2 - 1500L/s, Level 3 - 1000L/s and Level 4 - 820L/s.

Water restrictions in Shannon and Tokomaru are triggered by dropping river flows in the Tokomaru Farmland River. Council implements Level 1 restrictions when the river flow is less than 350L/s, Level 2 - 250L/s, Level 3 - 200L/s and Level 4 - 150L/s.

Water restrictions are usually in place for Foxton and Foxton Beach over the summer to ensure water continues to safely meet National Drinking Water Standards when there is higher-than-normal demand due to the large number of visitors.

3. What do water restrictions mean for me?

The conditions attached to water restrictions depend on the level that has been issued. These are detailed below.

Please note: If water restrictions have been issued, please contact Council prior to any major water use to confirm whether the activity you need water for is permitted.

Level 1 Water Supply Restrictions

Purpose Level 1 Conditions
Private gardens - watering
  • Garden sprinklers may only be used during the hours of 5:00am to 9:00am and 7:00pm to 9:00pm on alternate days as follows: Houses with even street numbers on even dates and houses with odd numbers on odd dates.
  • Soak hoses must not be used at any time
  • Handheld hoses, watering cans or buckets can be used at any time.
Public Parks, gardens and road reserves – watering
  • Sprinklers allowed on weekdays
  • No restrictions on bore water

Level 2 Water Supply Restrictions

Purpose Level 2 Conditions
Private gardens - watering
  • Garden sprinklers must not be used at any time
  • Soak hoses must not be used at any time
  • Handheld hoses, watering cans or buckets can be used on your odd/even days at any time: Houses with even street numbers on even dates, houses with odd street numbers on odd dates.
Public Parks, gardens and road reserves – watering Watering by bore water only.
Paved areas – cleaning
  • Hosing of paved areas is prohibited unless cleaning is required as a result of an accident, fire, health hazard or other emergency.
  • The use of a bucket filled directly from a tap is permitted at any time.
Household window cleaning and water jetting Water must not be used to clean windows except by means of a bucket or watering can filled directly from a tap.
Cleaning of cars, trucks, boats, jet skis, motorbikes and bicycles Water must not be used for cleaning except by means of a bucket or watering can filled directly from a tap.

Level 3 Water Supply Restrictions

Purpose Level 3 Conditions
Private gardens - watering
  • Garden sprinklers and soak hoses must not be used at any time
  • Handheld hoses, watering cans or buckets may only be used on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the hours of 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
Public Parks, gardens and road reserves – watering
  • Watering by bore water only.
Paved areas – cleaning
  • Hosing of paved areas is prohibited unless cleaning is required as a result of an accident, fire, health hazard or other emergency.
  • The use of a bucket filled directly from a tap is permitted at any time.
Private Swimming Pools or Spas – filling or topping up
  • Newly constructed swimming pools and spas must not be filled for the first time without the written permission of Council’s Water & Waste Services Manager
  • Existing swimming pools and spas must not be topped up except by means of handheld hoses, watering cans or buckets filled directly from taps
  • Filling up of portable swimming pools is now strictly prohibited.
Household window cleaning and water jetting
Water must not be used to clean windows except by means of a bucket or watering can filled directly from a tap.
Cleaning of cars, trucks, boats, jet skis, motorbikes and bicycles Water must not be used for cleaning except by means of a bucket or watering can filled directly from a tap.

Level 4 Water Supply Restrictions

Purpose Level 4 Conditions
Private gardens - watering
  • Sprinklers, soak hoses and handheld hoses must not be used to water private gardens at any time.
  • Flower and vegetable gardens may be watered using watering cans and buckets filled from a tap on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7pm and 9pm only.
Public Parks, gardens and road reserves – watering Watering by bore water only.
Paved areas – cleaning Hosing of paved areas is prohibited unless cleaning is required as a result of an accident, fire, health hazard or other emergency.
Fountains Fountains must not operate.
Private Swimming Pools or Spas – filling or topping up
  • Newly constructed swimming pools and spas must not be filled Existing swimming pools and spas must not be topped up or filled
  • Filling up of portable swimming pools is strictly prohibited.
Commercial market garden or plant nursery – watering of plants
  • Sprinklers must not be used without the written authority of Council’s Water and Waste Services Manager
  • Handheld hoses, watering cans or buckets may be used at any time
Household window cleaning and water jetting
  • Water must not be used to clean windows
  • The restrictions on the use of water for cleaning windows do not apply where cleaning is required as a result of accident, fire, health hazard or other emergency
Construction industry – use of water Regular users of more than five cubic metres of water per day in the construction industry must contact Council’s Water and Waste Services Manager as soon as possible for permission to maintain water consumption and discuss options for reducing water use.
Cleaning of cars, trucks, boats, jet skis, motorbikes and bicycles Water must not be used to clean vehicles unless cleaning is required for health or safety reasons. Cleaning for health and safety reasons must be undertaken using water cans or buckets filled directly from taps.

4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

To provide more information on why we need water restrictions, when they are imposed and what they mean for you, we have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions below.

Does Council have to impose water restrictions?

Yes. Council has to impose water restrictions to ensure a continuous supply for everyone during very dry weather conditions as well as meeting compliance requirements with Resource Consent conditions. Also, some users do waste water during these dry periods; it is not uncommon to see lawns being irrigated with water overflowing onto the road. These types of practices do not help the situation.

What triggers water restrictions in Levin?

Water restrictions in Levin are triggered by dropping river flows in the Ohau River. Horowhenua District Council implements Level 1 restrictions for Levin when the river flow is at 2500 litres per second (L/s), Level 2 at 1500L/s, Level 3 at 1000L/s and Level 4 at 820L/s.

What triggers water restrictions in Shannon and Tokomaru?

Water restrictions in Shannon and Tokomaru are triggered by dropping river flows in the Tokomaru Farmland River. Council implements Level 1 restrictions when the river flow is at 350L/s, Level 2 at 250L/s, Level 3 at 200L/s and Level 4 at 150L/s.

What triggers water restrictions in Foxton and Foxton Beach?

Water restrictions are usually in place for Foxton and Foxton Beach over the summer to ensure water continues to safely meet National Drinking Water Standards when there is higher-than-normal demand due to the large number of visitors.

How much water storage does Levin have?

The Levin Water Treatment plant stores one day’s supply of water, which is above average for New Zealand.

Why doesn’t Horowhenua have a water storage dam?

Few places in New Zealand have water storage dams. Dams are costly to construct and maintain however, providing additional storage will be considered over the coming years.

Why do I see Council contractors using water when restrictions are in place?

Council has a number of consents with Horizons Regional Council to extract water from bore holes for irrigation and general purposes. Council’s contractors use the bore water for operational activities.

How long will the restrictions last?

The MetService forecasts an unusually hot, dry summer. Council expects the water restrictions to remain in place for much of the summer.

How often will we have water restrictions in the future?

Due to New Zealand’s Mediterranean-type climate of hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters, we can expect to have water restrictions most years.

What happens if someone breaches the water restrictions?

Council takes an educational approach to the enforcement of water restrictions. When Council is made aware of any breaches to the restrictions, the owner/occupant of the house or premises will be contacted by a Council Officer to discuss the reported breach. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the reported breach and the outcome of the discussion, the owner/occupant will be provided with information on the water restrictions and water conservation practices. If the breach is confirmed, the occupant will also be given a warning, which will be confirmed in writing.

Any repeated breaches may result in further action from Council, which can include, but is not limited to, restricting the supply of water to their property and/or installing a water meter.