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Hawke's Bay region

Water Quantity

Hawke's Bay has an abundance of water in the region's rivers and aquifers, although it experiences seasonal shortages as the East Coast climate continues its drying trend.  The smart management of water is critical for regional prosperity and to protect aquatic habitats.

Hawke’s Bay has seven major river systems (mostly fast flowing, gravel bed rivers), two significant aquifers and four major lakes as well as many smaller rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater systems. However NIWA climate change modelling data predicts that the eastern coast of New Zealand will experience more frequent and prolonged droughts. Managing the rising demand for water, even with more efficient use and monitoring, against the increased dry periods is challenging.  Summer can be particularly stressful when crops for domestic and international markets need the greatest amount of water but rainfall and water levels can be low.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council is currently monitoring about 70% of the water use in Hawke’s Bay through its water metering programme. Nearly 500 sites are using telemetry to gain automated and near-realtime monitoring of their water use to improve efficiency.

Groundwater has been relied on as a dependable and safe water supply for domestic, irrigation and industrial purposes.  The two known major groundwater systems in Hawke’s Bay are under the Heretaunga Plain and Ruataniwha Plain. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council continues to investigate the linkages between river and groundwater resources.

The Heretaunga aquifer has been identified by the Ministry for the Environment as a national water body of the highest economic value for existing and potential domestic and industrial use.  The aquifer continues to supply good quality water to the main cities and for agriculture, although during the driest summers, groundwater levels can drop sufficiently to leave shallower wells without access to groundwater. 

The Ruataniwha and Takapau Plains area of Central Hawkes Bay are vulnerable to dry summers and droughts. This has generated interest in options for the future.  A proposed dam and irrigation scheme has been consented and is in the final stages of planning and financing.  The scheme is a long-term sustainable water supply solution for Central Hawke’s Bay and part of a wider programme to better manage water resources (quantity and quality) in the Tukituki catchment.  Associated with this proposal is a plan change (6) to the Regional Resource Management Plan which considers parts of the Tukituki catchment – including the Ruataniwha Basin – to be fully allocated. 

Regional Summary
Water quantity data in this region

Regional councils collect information about how much water is available and manage resource consents for those wishing to take water from rivers or groundwater supplies. Use the buttons below to view regional information on: how much water is available, where it comes from and how its used.


Rainfall {{waterAvailable.rainfall}} Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}} Groundwater available: {{waterSource.groundwater}}
{{waterSource.groundwaterPercentAvailable}}% of total available
Surface Water available: {{waterSource.surfacewater}}
{{waterSource.surfacewaterPercentAvailable}}% of total available
Town supply
  • How much water is there in this region?

    Rainfall and runoff in this region

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    Rainfall and runoff

    Relative Volume Source Volume
    Rainfall total:
    {{waterAvailable.rainfall }}
    rainfall Rainfall Total {{waterAvailable.rainfall}}
    Runoff total:
    {{waterAvailable.runoff }}
    runoff Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}}

    The table above shows the average amount of rainfall the region receives each year and how much of that flows out to sea. These are approximate figures only.

  • Water consents: where does water come from?

    The split between surface water and groundwater

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    Consented water by source

    Relative volumes
    Amount available to consent Surface water:
    available to consent
    available to consent
    Volume consented Surface water:
    volume consented
    volume consented
    Source Amount available to consent Volume consented Consented as a percentage of available
    surface water ground water {{item.source}} {{item.amountAvailable}} {{item.volumeConsented}} {{item.percentageConsented}}
    {{}} {{}} {{}} {{}}

    The table above shows how much water is available to use compared with the amount that is actually consented for use. It also shows how much of this water is surface water and how much is groundwater.

  • Water consents: How is water used?

    Consents by use in this region

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    Annual consented water use by type

    Overall annual volume for {{waterAvailable.year}}
    Relative breakdown
    Activity Percentage of total consented Total volume Number of consents
    {{item.displayText}} {{item.displayText}} - - No data available {{item.breakdownPercentage}}% {{item.totalVolume}} {{item.numberOfConsents}}
    Total {{}}% {{}} {{}}

    The above table shows the proportion of water consented for irrigation, industrial, stock, town supply and other. It excludes hydro electricity. In this region/management zone {{hydroUsage.totalVolume}}/year is consented for hydro-electricity and makes up {{hydroUsage.percentageConsented}}% of the total water volume consented for this region/management zone

Surface Water Zones Groundwater Zones
Groundwater management zones in the Hawke's Bay region

Select the groundwater management zone you'd like to see information on by clicking the buttons below or navigate using the map.