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Eagle-eyed neighbours are dobbing in errant gardeners as a total outdoor water ban looms.
A total outdoor water ban will come into force in the Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wellington tomorrow as a record dry spell threatens to push a water shortage to crisis level.
But Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said many people had already begun dobbing in their neighbours as growing awareness of the water woes led to a flurry of calls.
"We are getting an increase in the number of people querying the acts of their neighbours."
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace also reported an increase in dob-ins as well as many callers who were worried their taps would run dry.
Some people were even buying up water, he said.
"People are starting to panic a bit."
Councils are turning the taps off on other services as well, trying to squeeze out a few more weeks before tapping into emergency reserves.
Watering of all sports fields will be suspended from tomorrow, with the exception of the Westpac Stadium and the Basin Reserve.
In Wellington, cleaning crews have been told to avoid using water unless it is required for health and safety reasons.
At the Botanic Gardens in Wellington, water was turned off yesterday for all but the most valuable plants. Manager David Sole said thousands of parched flowering plants were being ripped out early.
"We have gone from sprinkler, to hand watering, to nothing."
Some of Wellington's last flowing fountains were switched off yesterday. The exceptions are the Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay, which uses sea water, and the Bucket Fountain in Cuba St.
Mr MacLean said the Bucket Fountain was not being drained because it was feared that intoxicated revellers could use it as play equipment.
Showers at Wellington's public pools have also been tweaked to chilly to encourage short washes. They could be turned off completely if water use did not drop.
Authorities hope public awareness and restrictions will lead each person in the region to save about 25 litres a day.
This could stretch out the water supply for two more weeks, enough time, it was hoped, for some much needed rain.
If people flouted the ban, they could be fined of up to $20,000.
- The Dominion Post