Water restrictions are to be relaxed in Ashburton this summer to allow the Ashburton District Council to determine whether they are needed in the long term.
Mayor Angus McKay put the suggestion to the Council's Service Delivery Committee to allow Council staff to collect accurate data on summer water usage and determine the effectiveness of SMART Watering, an Irrigation New Zealand education programme.
The Committee had previously requested a review of the Council's Water Restriction Policy but at Thursday's meeting agreed that more data on water usage was required before this could happen.
Mr McKay said he thought some "sound education would go a long way" to reducing water consumption in the district without enforcing water restrictions. "Some people are programmed to water their gardens at specific times even when their plants don't need it. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the SMART Watering programme."
The Committee agreed that water restrictions would be restored, at the discretion of the Council's Service Delivery Group Manager, if "environmental, operational or emergency conditions required them". These conditions would include the town's water supply dropping to low levels, a break down in the water supply system or extra demand being placed on Ashburton's water reserves.
A report on water usage from the 2015/16 summer will be presented to the Committee mid next year.