March BOM forecast to guide Council on future water restrictions for region

Council is playing it safe and maintaining current water restrictions for the Armidale region at least until the latest forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology is released in March.

Recent above average rainfall has had a positive effect for farmers and an increased optimism has returned to the region. Storage levels have increased but not to levels sufficient to remove water restrictions.

The current combined water storage capacity for our region sits at 54 percent. Guyra Dam is currently at 100 percent capacity but only represents 4 percent of our total water storage. Malpas Dam is at 50.45 percent.

Armidale Regional Council Mayor Cr Simon Murray said it was important for the community to acknowledge one overall water storage level now that the Malpas/Guyra pipeline was in place and dams are connected.

“It is great news that Guyra Dam is at 100 percent but as quickly as it fills it can also empty just as quickly if we don’t keep our water usage in check,” said Cr Murray.

“Since the pipeline was connected towards the end of 2019 our storage dams have become one supply and we must look beyond our own community’s interests and push through together as one region.

“2019 was a horrendous year and our water storage was pushed to the limit. We don’t know what the rest of 2020 will bring with rainfall and we must be conservative in our outlook predictions.”

Council is currently developing at 30-year Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy and Secure Yield Model to assess the long-term needs of the Armidale region’s water infrastructure, supply and community expectations. Included in this work will be an updated Drought Management Plan that will identify water restriction and easing triggers for future implementation. This document is expected to be completed by the end of the Financial Year.

“Our previous drought management plans from the former Guyra Shire and Armidale Dumaresq Councils did not reflect the drought conditions and climate change being experienced in our region,” said Cr Murray.

“The work within the IWCM will contain the latest research, data and modelling to ensure our plans reflect our current circumstances and any potential climate change implications.”

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