Hosing restrictions begin in Palmerston North this weekend after an exceptionally dry November.
City residents will only be allowed to hose the garden by hand at any time on alternate days, with use of sprinklers and other unattended watering devices restricted to 7pm to 9pm on their allotted days.
The way the system works is that properties ending with an odd street number can hose on odd-numbered days, and even numbers on even dates. Soak hoses are prohibited at all times.
Water assets manager Dora Luo said it was the earliest that restrictions had been brought in since 2003.
The next step, of Level 2 restrictions, would ban the use of sprinklers, and restrict hand-held hosing to alternate days. The most severe restriction is a total ban on the use of water outdoors for any purpose, including washing cars.
Council staff hoped water conservation efforts now would delay or prevent the need for watering bans later in summer.
Residents have been asked to conserve water by using mulch in the garden to retain moisture.
Indoors, shorter showers, stopping leaks, and waiting until the dishwasher and washing machine were full before running a load would all help.
Residents are also asked to report any leaks from a hydrant or toby.
The restrictions starting this weekend align with the council's water supply bylaw, and excludes an allowance from past times which used to allow two hours of sprinkler use in the early morning.
The bylaw provisions will be enforced from Saturday.
Palmerston North residents use an average of 29,000 cubic metres of water every day, which can climb to 49,000 cubic metres on a hot day.
Water is drawn from the council-owned Turitea dams, supplemented by bores which can be worked harder to supplement the supply, but are not enough on their own.
The first day of summer will also mean the introduction of water restrictions in Horowhenua.
Restrictions on the use of hoses and sprinklers will begin in the district on Saturday, December 1.
The restrictions are being introduced in an attempt to ward off larger water woes later in the season.
Water supplies in Horowhenua are most vulnerable over the Christmas and New Year period when holiday makers take to the area's coastal settlements.
"Council staff will be regularly monitoring water use and undertaking inspections throughout the summer period in order to maintain council water conservation measures," Horowhenua District Council water services manager Sarah Stephen said.
"There are some really simple measures that residents can take that help enormously with water conservation. Boaties in particular, need to minimise the amount of water they use for washing boats."
The restrictions put in place from Saturday are for all properties on council water supplies.
Garden sprinklers may only be used during the hours of 7pm to 9pm on even dates for houses with even street numbers and on odd dates for houses with odd street numbers.
Soak hoses are also banned from Saturday.
Manawatu District Council and Tararua District Council have not announced any water restrictions as yet.
- The Manawatu Standard
How excited are you about the 2014 Commonwealth Games?Related story: After the hype, time to let the Games begin