Poor rainfall outlook coupled with high water demand over the holiday period has prompted water restrictions to be elevated to Level 2 effective Monday, 20 January 2020.
This applies to the council areas of Lismore (excluding Nimbin), Ballina (including Wardell and Meerschaum Vale), Byron (excluding Mullumbimby), and Richmond Valley (excluding Casino).
Nimbin remains on Level 3 restrictions at the moment.
Nimbin’s water supply is sourced from Mulgum Creek and is managed by Lismore City Council. The water supply for the rest of Lismore Local Government Area and the Northern Rivers is sourced from Rocky Creek Dam and is managed by Rous County Council. It currently at level 1 water restrictions.
Rous County Council Acting Planning Manager, Samuel Curran, met with the Regional Drought Management Committee on Wednesday, 8 January to discuss the current outlook. Representatives from Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Richmond Valley councils agreed now is the right time to initiate Level 2 water restrictions.
“Water consumption across the Rous supply area for November and December has been more than 10 per cent higher than the same period in 2018. Rainfall measured at Rocky Creek Dam (as an indicator for the region) for November and December combined was 116mm in 2018 compared to 70mm in 2019,” he said.
“Most of the Northern Rivers is in intense drought. The Bureau of Meteorology outlook is for a drier and hotter than average summer and a delayed monsoon season.
“Water use in January is traditionally high with the summer holiday season. And despite a slight drop in demand after Level 1 water restrictions came into place, we have seen a steady increase in consumption over the last few weeks.”
Rocky Creek Dam level is currently sitting around 60 per cent dropping at a continual rate of around 2.2 per cent per week.
Rous County Council General Manager, Phillip Rudd, said the catchment continues to be particularly dry.
“The catchment area of Rocky Creek Dam has not been this dry for more than 45 years,” Mr Rudd said.
“To safeguard our drinking water supply, it is critical that we cut down on non-essential use of water. We need to ensure that both residents and visitors to the region are aware of water restrictions. Every drop of water saved adds up to make a huge difference.”
Under Level 2 restrictions, water usage must be cut by 15 per cent within a reasonable time and if there is no significant rainfall, the region may face Level 3 water restrictions. This drop is equivalent to 30 litres per person per day. This is equivalent to four minutes in the shower or two full toilet flushes.
The most significant non-essential use of water happens outdoors. Under Level 2 restrictions, gardens can be watered by watering can or bucket at any time. Hand-held hoses can only be used for 30 minutes before 9am and after 4pm, on odd or even days matching your house number. No watering will be permitted on the 31st of the month.
Significant differences from Level 1 to Level 2 water restrictions include:
- Outdoor watering duration reduced by half. Time of day and odd/even day restrictions still apply.
- Car washing duration reduced by half. Time of day and odd/even day restrictions still apply.
- Further restrictions on business water use including public and private pool top ups, vehicle washing and detailing.
- Water used for dust suppression and road construction should use non-potable water sources.
Businesses that rely on outdoor water use as part of their operations will need to contact the council on 1300 87 83 87 to apply for an exemption.
Fines will apply for breaches of water restrictions – $220 for residential breaches and $550 for businesses.
Download your full Level 2 water restrictions guide here.
* Original infographics by Tweed Shire Council