A timeline for the introduction of level 6 water restrictions has been flagged as Orange City Council released plans to delay or avoid the tighter limits.
Orange City Council CEO David Waddell said that while a lot had been achieved in reducing consumption and expanding the supply there could be difficult times ahead with reservoirs currently at 23 per cent.
“If no significant inflows occur in our storages over the next months, Orange faces the real prospect that our storages could be close to empty in December this year. As a result, if the weather continues to provide no relief, as the months pass we face being forced to bring in Level 6 restrictions to the City which could mean significant impacts to our economy,” Mr Waddell said.
“Assuming no inflows, around 1 May this year Orange we will need to enter a period of Level 6 restrictions. Orange has built up a wonderful reputation for the work of its citizens in saving water but this situation is beyond those efforts. Orange will lead the pack in the introduction of prudent albeit severe restrictions if the necessity arises. Council’s Executive will review the situation weekly and believe me restrictions will be lifted as soon as humanly possible. With reduced consumption and some inflows we can push the 1 May date out. Today is about transparency and giving businesses and the community a chance to plan.”
Some residents will recall that several years ago a level 5a was introduced. However an assessment of those restrictions has found that it would not effectively extend the life of the supply or delay level 6.
Mr Waddell said a set of level 6 restrictions were developed some time ago and they are being reviewed and remodelled to ensure the best possible outcome for the city.
“Under the existing level 6, which is due when dams reach 15 per cent, there could be a significant impact on the operations of water intensive industries. We may still get to that but right now we are working with these sectors to drive down consumption. Every day of water we save now pushes the introduction of level 6 further away.”
“To that end we will focus on the top 50 non-residential users with the aim of reducing their consumption. If we can make gains in the non-residential sector we could delay level 6 and extend the life of the reservoirs,” Mr Waddell said.
Assessments on these 50 users have already begun. This involves Council staff on site with these users working through ways to reduce consumption and identify alternative supplies. There will be no single answer to how commercial use is lowered and there will need to be site-specific and business category specific plans.
“These are people livelihoods we are talking about here so we won’t go into details of the businesses in question only to note that we will be working closely with them,” Mr Waddell said.
While the focus will be in the non-residential sector level 6 will also mean no external watering at home. While consumption has been meeting the daily targets residential use is still the major user.
Council has appointed a water restrictions compliance officer who is targeting high volume users including those referred to Council by residents.
“While overall residential use is at relatively low levels there are exceptions to this and Council is in touch with those residents not matching the community expectations,” Mr Waddell said
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said there was a pathway through this adversity.
“This will be no easy task but I am confident that like the residents of the city the commercial sector can and must play a significant role in getting us through this drought,” Cr Kidd said.
Cr Kidd said the Council would continue to work with the NSW Government to increase our supply options when rain comes.
- These projects include:
- The Spring Creek Dam to Icely Road Filtration Plant Pipeline
- The Cowra Pipeline
- New bore fields
- Blackmans Swamp Creek Stormwater Harvesting Stage II and III
Cr Kidd said Council in partnership with the NSW and Federal governments had funded $90 million in water infrastructure projects in the last decade.
“There is more to do but without that work we would be in a worse position today. In addition to our current projects we keenly await the NSW Government’s approval to pump from the Macquarie River at a lower trigger, which will significantly improve the outlook for the city.”