Council takes cautious approach to easing of water restrictions to level 3

Steady run-off into the Armidale region’s water supply and a 65 percent chance of above average rainfall during spring has prompted Armidale Regional Council to ease water restrictions to level 3 from 1 September 2020.

At the Ordinary Council Meeting held today Interim Administrator Viv May approved a recommendation to reduce water restrictions now that the region’s total water storage sits at 69 percent capacity.

“The easing of water restrictions will be welcome relief for the entire community who have done an exceptional job in their water saving efforts during the unprecedented drought of 2019,” said Mr May.

“Even though I wasn’t in the region last year, I like many people across Australia were fully aware of the severity of the situation and the real threat of a city like Armidale running dry. Each and every person in the Armidale region should be extremely proud of their collective efforts to stave-off day zero.”

Council continues to remain cautious and has set level 3 water restrictions accordingly. Outside watering of lawns and gardens can resume with a hand held hose with a trigger nozzle or with a water efficient drip irrigation system for two hours on Sunday and Wednesday between 5-7pm. Watering of gardens with a bucket can be done at any time. Buckets can be used to wash vehicles but not during the heat of the day and watering of new turf can resume for up to six weeks adding an additional 2 hours on Monday and Thursday to the standard watering days already available for lawns and gardens.

Hand held hoses must not be used to wash cars, washing down hard surfaces, even with a high pressure cleaner is not allowed and filling of private swimming pools is still prohibited. Sprinklers and fixed hoses must not be used at any time.

Public parks, gardens and facilities will be allowed one watering cycle per field on Monday and Thursday for premium sports fields and parks which include Armidale Sportsground, Rologas Field, Harris Park and Central Park. Commercially owned sports areas and landscaping can be irrigated for two hours on Monday and Thursday between 5-7pm.

Commercial and industrial water users will no longer require exemptions however Council strongly encourages continued water conservation practices as a long term business strategy with the minimum expectation of a 15 percent reduction in average water usage.

During last year’s severe drought conditions Council supported commercial high water users with rebates to assist in establishing long term water conservation. Residential water users were also supported with water rebates for the installation of rainwater tanks, water efficient washing machines and toilets.

“It is extremely important that both business and residential water users adopt long term water conservation everyday regardless of restrictions or even if the dams are full,” said Mr May

“We don’t know what the future will bring or whether our region will experience more frequent sever droughts in the future. What I do know is we must place a higher value on water and change our everyday habits and maintain responsible use of this precious resource.”

Council is encouraging water users to maintain the NSW average of 180 litres per person per day or less for normal water usage. This is particularly important as Council this Financial Year has increased the Residential and Commercial Water Consumption Stepped Tariff charges.

A water conservation promotional campaign will be delivered over the coming months with an emphasis on sharing and showcasing the great work of our community through simple and easy ways of saving water everyday. A new Drought Management Plan will be developed in the coming months and will include significant community and key stakeholder input.

“As a community we need to share in the future of what water management and conservation looks like for our region. We have proven that if we work together we can achieve great outcomes, ” said Mr May.

“Council will continue to review water restrictions. If conditions improve more easing of restrictions may be possible. Equally last year we saw how rapidly our water storages fell away so Council and the community have to be prepared to adapt and conserve water.”

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