South Wairarapa residents banned from sprinklers and irrigation systems as mass leaks slash water supply

South Wairarapa residents woke to both rain and level 2 water restrictions on Saturday - sprinklers and irrigation systems are now banned.

That's because over 100 water pipe leaks are emptying the council's reservoirs at an alarming rate.

Don't be fooled by the rain. South Wairarapa's running out of water, losing 46 percent of its water supply due to leaks.

"It doesn't surprise me, it's terrible. We get a bit used to that here," one local told Newshub.

"Infrastructure's really hard to maintain and we've got a small rate base," another said.

The area currently has 103 leaks in its public water network. That's something Peter Dieckermann, who's lived in South Wairarapa for over 25 years, said is an ongoing issue.

"They've known they've had this problem for a long period, and it seems to me they have a problem with their project management," he told Newshub.

"They don't seem to be able to budget, they don't seem to be able to plan."

But the council can't afford to fix all of its leaks - even after hiking rates by nearly 20 percent.

"They must have plenty of money because the rates are immense," Dieckermann said.

"A lot of things like water and so on are under pressure. What are they going to do - raise rates? Dig it all up? Some of it's probably 100 years old," Featherston Bookshop owner Martin Davis added.

Wellington Water, which operates South Wairarapa's water network on behalf of the council, wasn't available for an interview and neither was the local mayor or council staff.

However, in a statement, both parties said they're working to fix the leaks.

"Level 2 restrictions in the South Wairarapa region have been put in place to help reduce water demand, following a period of high water use and dry weather causing a drop in water storage levels in the reservoirs," Wellington Water chief executive Susannah Cullen told Newshub.

"It's important to note that this change only affects the South Wairarapa District and that the metropolitan Wellington region remains at level 1 restrictions. South Wairarapa District runs on a separate drinking water network from the metropolitan Wellington region.

"We encourage the public to make efforts to conserve water where possible, with small changes such as taking shorter showers (no more than four minutes), not running the tap while brushing your teeth, and only doing full loads of washing."

Under level 2 restrictions people are banned from using sprinklers and irrigation systems.

"It would be a major problem because people here are very keen on gardening," Dieckermann said.

And although it's been raining today here in South Wairarapa, they'll need a lot more than this to top up the tanks. The council is urging everyone to conserve water - otherwise they could face stricter measures later in summer.

"I support the measures we've taken to conserve the precious resource we all rely on. It's important that both as a community and Council we do our part to work towards avoiding future level changes," said South Wairarapa District Council Deputy Mayor Melissa Sadler-Futter.

"As always, we will be working closely with our partners at Wellington Water to ensure we continue to maintain and improve water infrastructure across South Wairarapa."

As for the entire Wellington Region, it's still at more lenient level 1 water restrictions - but is also currently losing about 45 percent of supplied water due to leaks.