A water management study in the North Island's Rangitikei district has confirmed that water supplies are coming under increasing pressure from irrigators and drought.
It found smarter use of water will be needed as allocations for river and ground water near limits.
The first phase of the assessment, funded by Rangitikei District Council and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is finishing up and findings will be outlined at a series of farm and community meetings over the next two months.
Project manager Greg Carlyon of the Catalyst Group said they include options for making the best use of the water.
The suggestions include more shared use of the groundwater.
"That's the area with the largest potential. It includes the potential for wind-generated ground water takes which are then subsequently stored and distributed to landowners."
He said reinvestment in community water supply schemes like Hunterville and others that serve very large areas with stock drinking water supplies is also an idea.
"It includes effectively farmer clubs that come together to provide stock drinking water across many properties, so small scale storage to get us through those critical drought periods."
But Mr Carlyon says damming the Rangitikei River and its tributaries will not be an option.