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Masterton residents are being asked to only use handheld hoses as the district’s rivers drop to low levels.

The Waingawa River supplies Masterton’s water. Its flow rate has dropped below 1,300 litres per second – a significant reduction from normal flow.

Masterton District Council begins looking at water conservation measures when the river drops below 1,900 litres per second.

Assets and Operations Manager David Hopman says the river level dropped extremely fast.

“Normally we would be asking people to only use sprinklers on alternate days before we switch to handheld hoses only,” Mr Hopman said.

“October is very early for our district’s rivers to drop to this level. However, we are hoping that forecast rain will provide some reprieve over the next week.”

Mr Hopman says the way water restrictions are initiated has changed slightly this year and residents should be prepared for the potential of a total watering ban.

“We’ve worked with the Greater Wellington Regional Council to manage Masterton’s water consumption in line with maintaining the health of our rivers.

“For the first time our water restrictions are directly tied to the level of water in our rivers,” Mr Hopman said.

“It means that if the rivers get below a certain level over a sustained period, we will be asking residents not to water their garden, either with sprinklers or handheld hoses.”

People can find out the current water restriction rating online at www.mstn.govt.nz/services/water-services/ or in Saturday’s Wairarapa Times Age. There is also a water restriction rating meter in central Masterton, on the corner of Hope and Chapel Streets.