Government regulations on water metering will have a positive effect for Hawke's Bay, Hawke's Bay Regional Council water information services manager Kelvin Ferguson says.
The Government approved a plan this week that would see 98 per cent of water takes metered by 2016. Only 31 per cent of water is metered at present.
There are about 2500 consent holders in Hawke's Bay and 800 are already metered because water meters are a requirement for new and renewed consents.
Those consent holders without meters would fund the installation of meters on their properties. The council had loan facilities available if needed.
The council had approved certain meters and was working with irrigation companies in the area to become certified installers.
Using an approved installer would save landowners $305 as they would not need a compliance check.
"Accuracy is important so we have a code for installation," Mr Ferguson said.
The council supported the change because it would give certainty over how much water was being drawn from resources that are under pressure.
Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was impossible to manage water properly without more information about how much is extracted and when.
The regulations would require water takes of more than 20 litres a second be metered by 2012. By 2016, water takes of more than five litres a second would be metered.
Households would not be affected because very few used five litres a second.
Water use was worth more than $5 billion a year to the economy, Dr Smith said, and even a small improvement in efficiency would make the investment in improved information worthwhile.
A national regulation was a more efficient way of getting water measured, he said, rather than leaving the decision and timing to each individual regional council.
"Regional councils have only been able to require metering for new consents or renewals, meaning it would take more than 25 years to get accurate figures on water use. It is more efficient to have a consistent national standard for water meter accuracy and reporting systems."
Metering in Hawke's Bay would also allow landowners to track their own use. The council was working with telemetry companies to develop an online system where measurements would be automatically recorded and stored for review.
Mr Ferguson said irrigators could look at their water take numbers and compare them with soil moisture readings to ensure they were using water to the best effect.