Masterton District Council was spotted using an unattended watering system on public gardens, despite strict water restrictions being enforced throughout the district.
As of Monday, Masterton residents have been asked to use handheld hoses only for outdoor watering.
At 3am on Wednesday morning, a Masterton resident spotted the council's drip line flooding a garden on Queen St and snapped a photo.
"So residents are banned [from] using sprinklers but Masterton District Council can flood, overflow and waste water," the resident said.
"How long had it been wasting water before I noticed at 3am?"
A council spokesperson said the overflow appeared to be the result of a damaged sprinkler head, and said the watering schedule was automated but would cease under the current water restrictions.
"Under normal operation the pipe drips approximately one drip per minute, far less than a handheld hose.
"Drip lines are automated to operate at night to reduce evaporation.
"The pictured pipe has clearly been damaged. Work is underway to turn the drip lines off.
"Any watering will be handheld until restrictions are eased."
Water restrictions in Masterton came into force on Monday when the flow of the Waingawa River at Kaituna dropped below 1300 litres per second.
A total outdoor water ban is normally enforced when the flow drops below 1100L/s.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the flow was 1070L/s, but rain was expected over the coming days.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air