Auckland Council has given the go-ahead for its water company to restrict supplies to customers who refuse to pay their bills.
Watercare Services supplies and directly bills most homes and businesses in Auckland says $42 million in payments are overdue.
The company says threats of restrictions used in the former Manukau City prompted swift payment in 80% of cases.
Councillor Cathy Casey argued, during a debate, that no matter how carefully the move is applied, water is a human right and there are safety risks in restricting it.
But most councillors accepted Watercare's intention to set up a trust to look after those in genuine hardship.