Level two water restrictions start tomorrow as New South Wales continues to struggle through severe fire and drought devastation.The tough regulations on water usage will mean anyone caught breaching them will face heavy penalties as the government tries to preserve what little water is left in the state’s dams which are teetering around 45 per cent.The restrictions will be enforced in the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains and Illawarra regions and they will be the strictest conditions Sydney has seen in over a decade.
“Given the rapid rate of decline of our dam levels we have decided to enact the next level of restrictions sooner than planned,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement. “We are experiencing one of the most severe droughts on record and we expect introducing level two restrictions to save 78.5 gigalitres of water per year.”Anyone caught breaching the tough new rules around water usage will face hefty fines with local councils taking a zero tolerance approach.
What are the restrictions?
Level two water restrictions mean that gardens can only be watered before 10am or after 4pm, using a watering can or bucket.”It is about ensuring we extend the use of our water supply,” NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey told Today.”You can water your garden with a bucket outside the hours between 10 and 4, but you can’t use your hose outside anymore.”She said people also need to think about how long they spend in the shower, with even taking a couple of minutes less saving as much as 18 litres of water.”Maybe just be a little bit more careful with that washing machine, do you need to put on six loads during the week?” she added.People will no longer be permitted to hose hard surfaces unless in an emergency and cars can only be washed with a bucket or at a commercial carwash.Permits will also be required before filling any sized pool.
What are the penalties?
Anyone who breaches the water restrictions will be fined with residents copping $220 and businesses being hit with a $550 fine if caught.Businesses that use outdoor water, such as carwashes and public gardeners will be required to apply for an exemption and even businesses that have permits under previous restrictions are advised to contact Sydney Water to see if they are still valid.Ms Pavey told Today that with the current bushfires and drought, level three restrictions are a real possibility and could even come into effect as early as the beginning of next year.Under level three restrictions, the limits on what time a garden can be watered using a bucket or watering can will be lengthened to before 9am and after 6pm and a person’s time in the shower will also be limited to no greater than five minutes.Level three restrictions are already in place for drought and fire affected areas in Port Macquarie and Dubbo is already at level four with restrictions also on what days and house numbers on a street are allowed to use water during the restricted times.”This is what the drought is showing us – water is an incredible resource, it’s precious and we need to protect every drop until it rains,” Ms Pavey said.
Why are the restrictions in place?
The restrictions on water usage in NSW are due to the low levels of water in our dam catchments.While dam levels usually need to hit 40 per cent before level two restrictions come into play, the current drought and bushfire crisis has forced the government to take extreme measures with levels currently sitting just above 45 per cent.In 2017, NSW was declared 100 per cent in drought and this has lasted up until today, with levels currently around 98 per cent.The drought devastation means that water is in extremely short supply and with the recent bushfires, the state needs to conserve as much water as possible with forecasters predicting one of the hottest, driest summers we have ever seen.
Ways to minimise your water usage
- Adhere to the rules in place about watering your garden outside of the hours of 10am and 4pm.
- Make a conscious effort to fix any tap or hose leaks around the house
- Try and reduce the amount of washing loads you do in a week, even one less washing load saves 70 litres of water according to Sydney Water
- Front loader washing machines are more water efficient than top loaders
- Cut shower times down by at least a couple of minutes or opt for taking a bath instead
- Have a bucket handy to catch the shower water while you wait for it to heat up, then use that to water plants
- Instead of rinsing dishes, try scraping food scraps before you load the dishwasher.
- Make sure the dishwasher is full before you start a load
- Rinse fruit and vegetables in a bowl rather than a running tap – then use that bowl of water for another purpose like the garden
- Look at switching to a dual flush toilet and WELS (Water Efficiency labelling and Standards) rated showerheads and taps
- According to Sydney Water, jeans can be washed after every five wears, or you can place them in the freezer overnight and this will also give the same results as cleaning