Turn off the tap!

By Alex Easton

THE Northern Rivers is less than a month away from formal water restrictions, with Rocky Creek Dam now below the 64 per cent mark and the region's traditional wet season over.

The dam is at its lowest point for June since 2002, the year the region slid into drought.

In June 2002, Rocky Creek Dam slipped to 52 per cent of capacity, following a dry summer and autumn. That dry weather continued until February, 2003, when the dam hit 24 per cent before the return of decent rains refilled it.

And if it doesn't rain soon, using water where and when you shouldn't could cost you hundreds of dollars in fines.

Rous Water general manager Paul Muldoon said specific details of a new fine system were still being hammered out. But councillors at Lismore City's meeting last week were told offenders would likely be given a warning before facing a fine.

If they offended again, water wasters would be fined, with Mr Muldoon saying the likely figure being around the $220 mark.

Details on the fine system were expected to be worked out within the next fortnight.

"However, I think the community is a lot more aware of water and a little bit more concerned about their security of supply," Mr Muldoon said.

"From my knowledge, 2002-03 was the first time restrictions were put on the Rous supply in 50 years.

Before that the community pretty well accepted that it had a supply that was secure."

The trick now was to get the message across to residents that every bit of water saved was a moment longer that the region had before it went onto enforced restrictions.

Residents were being encouraged to begin observing level one restrictions immediately, even though they would not be enforced until the dam hit 60 per cent. If that was taken up across the region, it might give us another week before restrictions were introduced.



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