Two Hawke's Bay towns nearly run out of water after pipe cut

Two small towns in Hawke's Bay came perilously close to having no water at all on Friday night after the main supply to the town was cut off.

Contractors working on private land broke the line into the main reservoir and the results weren't great.

Water tankers were rushing around in Waipawa and Otana last night to try to stop the reservoir draining to empty.

"We were losing water very quickly," says Central Hawkes Bay Mayor Alex Walker. 

"We probably got to within one to two hours of about 3000 people being without drinking water."

The community was put on high alert and some businesses were forced to close.

"Local cafes, local businesses conserving water, no car-washing, no washing machines and even that age-old thing - if it's yellow, let it mellow," Walker says.

Bottled water was the hot ticket in the local shops.

"This whole pallet was stocked all the way to the top but now the water's run out in Waipawa, it's just completely gone and we've sold about a whole pallet of water today," retailer Angus Smith told Newshub.

The two-metre break in the line now has been repaired but a lot of water's been lost and residents are being told to conserve what's there

Level 4 water restrictions remain in place, meaning no outdoor watering at all. The council says 125 metres of pipeline is potentially damaged so there's still more work to be done.