Kempsey Shire Council will lower the official Water Supply Restrictions from Level 3 to Level 2, across the shire, from Monday 24 February.
The recent weeks of rain activity have provided strong flow in the Macleay River, allowing the dam to be refilled through the Sherwood borefield. Steuart McIntyre Dam reached 74% capacity on Wednesday morning, 18% higher than its low point of 56% in early January.
Council’s Manager Water and Sewer, Wes Trotter, said the quality of the water coming out of the bores was excellent and the replenished dam level warranted lowering the level.
“The recent weeks of consistent rainfall upriver have provided a strong flow in the Macleay, while the rain right here in the shire has greatly reduced consumption” Mr Trotter said.
“It is the double whammy of increased supply and decreased use that means we can make this decision.”
Level 3 Water Supply Restrictions have been in place since Monday 2 December and Council thanked the community for embracing the message and their willingness to pitch in and save this valuable resource.
“Water Restrictions are notoriously hard to monitor, despite our rangers’ best efforts, so these measures would have been far less successful without our whole community getting on board and taking real actions to save water,” said Acting General Manager Stephen Mitchell.
While the change in level has significant commercial use implications, for residents the difference is more subtle, translating mostly to longer usage on permitted days.
Under Level 2 restrictions, gardens and lawns can still only be watered using hand-held hoses every second day between 4pm and 9am using the ‘odds and evens’ system, but the duration extends from 10 to 30 minutes. Still, no sprinklers or soaker hoses can be used.
Residents are advised to use buckets and trigger hose rinsing for washing cars, boats and trailers, limited to once a week. While the outdoor cleaning of windows, walls, roofs, gutters, driveways and paved areas is banned, unless required as a result of an accident, emergency or health hazard.
Council operated water facilities at shire beaches are also being turned back on, though some permanent water efficiencies will remain at our beaches with showers and fish cleaning tables now all on timer switches.
While the dam level is on the rise, Council will closely monitor the level of algae in the dam in the coming weeks, as a spike in algae activity could see supply revert direct to the bores. Algal growth has been an ongoing issue at Steuart McIntyre Dam.
“If we”re going to have an algae problem it will be in the next 4 to 6 weeks,” Mr Trotter said. “Historically February and March have been our problem months for algae.”
“That said, our levels look good year on year and would seem to indicate we’ve had some success in our algae management techniques. Additionally, bore nutrient levels, which directly impact algae activity, are staying in the required parameters.”
Council will continue trucking water to the upriver townships of Willawarrin, Bellbrook and Thungutti as river supply is impossible given localised turbidity levels. “The river will return to an acceptable quality, but it won’t be for a few weeks at least. Until then, the upriver communities will still need water to be trucked in.”