Water restrictions for entire region to start soon
UPDATE, TUESDAY: Rous County Council is implementing Level 1 water restrictions when the Rocky Creek Dam level reaches 70 per cent.
The decision was made at an extraordinary Council meeting today and in conjunction with Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Richmond Valley Councils.
Several factors have contributed to restrictions being brought in before Rocky Creek Dam reaches 60 per cent capacity, which is the normal trigger point according to the water supplier's Regional Water Supply Drought Management Plan. The dam is currently at 75.6 per cent capacity.
Water consumption across the Rous supply area for October and November has been more than 20 per cent higher than the same period in 2018.
The water authority's Chairperson Cr Keith Williams said the decision is a prudent one.
"Applying Level 1 water restrictions before Rocky Creek Dam reaches 60 per cent is a signal to the community that we need to make water conservation an everyday part of our lives.
"The decision has been based on falling dam levels, declining inflows into Rocky Creek Dam, a poor outlook for rainfall for summer, community sentiment that restrictions were required and water restrictions being in place for most of our neighbouring towns and council areas.
"A rapid drop in water levels at Rocky Creek Dam combined with a drier than average outlook for the rest of spring are the primary reasons for restricting water use now.
"It's essential we reduce demand now to prolong our water supply. If dam levels drop further or reductions in consumption are not met, we could be looking at higher level restrictions. We urge people to reduce their water usage now to delay the introduction of tougher water restrictions.
"Water carters will be unaffected by the restrictions. It is vitally important that this service continues to provide drinking water to the many parts of our community that aren't serviced by reticulated water. Rous will continue to work with water carters and our constituent councils to improve access to water to reduce waiting times where possible." Cr Williams said.
Under Level 1 restrictions, Council means to reduce water usage by five per cent. If this target is not met within a reasonable timeframe, Council may decide to escalate water restrictions.
Level 1 residential water saving measures include:
- watering established gardens with hand-held hoses fitted with an on/off nozzle for one hour every second day, between 4.00pm and 9.00am on odd or even days matching house numbers
- topping up swimming pools permitted between 4.00pm and 9.00am using hand-held hose fitted with an on/off nozzle
- washing cars with hand-held hoses permitted between 4.00pm and 9.00am on odd or even days matching house numbers.
The full list of water saving measures can be found on Council's website.
Restrictions apply to Council's direct customers and the local government areas it services with bulk water: Ballina (excluding Wardell), Byron (excluding Mullumbimby), Lismore (excluding Nimbin) and Richmond (excluding Casino and all land west of Coraki).
They apply to residential urban and rural properties, public facilities, and business and commercial properties.
Compliance with the water restrictions is reliant on the community acknowledging the need to reduce their water consumption and reducing the wasting of water, particularly on outside use.
Council urges residents and businesses to reduce their water usage now to delay the introduction of tougher water restrictions.
The Bureau of Meteorology climate outlook is for warmer and drier conditions for the east coast of Australia for the rest of spring and into summer.
ORIGINAL STORY: THE decision to bring in level 1 water restrictions for most of the region is expected to be passed today, meaning strict new rules on consumption for residents could kick in as early as three weeks.
At the ROUS County Council extraordinary meeting at 1pm today, the water council and its four constituent councils finally decide whether to implement level one water restrictions in areas where water is supplied from Rocky Creek Dam once it hits 70 per cent capacity, instead of the current 60 per cent threshold.
Councils ROUS County Council chairperson Cr Keith Williams said given the recommendation already has the support of the four constituent councils, he was confident "it would be passed today."
"How quickly they are implemented depends on how quickly the dam drops from its current 77 per cent... at the current consumption rate, I expect they will be bought in, in around three weeks."
The push for early restrictions comes as Rocky Creek dam levels continue to drop by nearly 2 per cent each week - currently sitting on 77 per cent down from 78.5 percent last week and 81 per cent the week before that.
With the high level of water demand and the forecast for continuing hotter and dryer conditions for next three months, Cr Williams said bringing forward water restrictions was the only way to slow consumption down.
From Rocky Creek Dam, Rous County Council supplies water to urban areas of the Byron Shire (excluding Mullumbimby), parts of the Richmond Valley including Coraki, Evans Head, Broadwater, Riley's Hill and Woodburn as well as a number of urban areas in the Ballina and Lismore LGAs.
Mr Williams said he expected "some debate" at the meeting from councillors but not much as the four member councillors unanimously joined the water council in recommending implementing the early restrictions.
"We are all aware of the shared responsibly we have to manage this water resource as best we can," he said.
"Byron, Lismore and Richmond Valley have already introduced water restrictions for some parts of their its networks that are not connected to ROUS... that's one of the reasons for having level 1 water restrictions in other areas, if everyone is on some sort of restrictions it makes it potentially earlier for people to be aware and understand what restrictions are in place and what they mean."
The level 1 water restriction will focus on outdoor watering, with things like sprinklers banned and alternate day watering options to kick in for residents.
"The aim is to reduce consumption at that stage to about 5 percent and get us back to what our normal consumption of water would be," he said.
"We need to get it back down to at least a normal level of consumption or we will drain the dam quite rapidly."
Nimbin is currently under level 2 water restrictions, Mullumbimby is on Level 3, Kyogle level 2 and Casino level 3 and Tenterfield are on level 4.7 water restrictions.
What some of the level 1 water restrictions will mean for residents:
Watering of established gardens
- Irrigation systems can be used for a maximum of 15 minutes and hand held hoses can be used for 1 hour every second day, between 4pm and 9am on odd or even days matching house numbering system.
- All hoses must be fitted with on/off nozzles
- unattended hoses banned.
Watering of established lawns
- Not permitted
Watering of new turf, lawns and Gardens
- Watering-in permitted for 1 hour only on the day of establishment. Then 1 hour daily between 4pm and 9am for 14 days after the date of establishment.
- Emptying and refilling of pools/spas not permitted.
To find out more head to page 45 -51 of the Rous County Council Water management Plan: file:///C:/Users/Francis.Witsenhuysen/Downloads/Drought_Management_Plan.pdf
For water saving tips visit rous.nsw.gov.au.