MidCoast Council increases water restrictions to severe level four

Gloucester has three water storage towers, one on Ravenshaw Street, Tyrell Street and Cemetery Road.
Gloucester has three water storage towers, one on Ravenshaw Street, Tyrell Street and Cemetery Road.

A fortnight after MidCoast Council declared high level three water restrictions for the region, it's announced that most of the region is moving up to severe level four.

As of Monday, November 25 all outdoor water use is banned and restrictions will be placed on businesses across the council region, except for the Hawks Nest / Tea Gardens area, which will remain on level three.

Severe restrictions mean residents can only use recycled, grey or rain water on gardens, as there is a total ban on sprinklers or garden irrigation systems. No car or boat washing is permitted, and swimming pool top-ups are banned.

Businesses are required to limit water usage to the minimum required to maintain basic production. Outside use of water by businesses is not permitted without an exemption.

But what does this mean for Gloucester residents who aren't serviced by council's main water storage dam?

Council has indicated that some of the smaller water supplied areas, such as Gloucester, may enter emergency restrictions, something that has never occurred before.

A litre of water saved is a litre for tomorrow.

Robert Scott

According to council's director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott historically Gloucester has been able to supply its own water from the Barrington River which has a fortunate catchment area in the Barrington Tops.

Mr Scott explained one of the issues with Gloucester is that when the river gets too low the pumps struggle to work, and therefore council is putting plans in place to submerge a portable pump in the river in order to keep topping up the community's water towers. There are three towers in town; the one cemetery Road holds 1.5 megalitres, with the other two at Tyrell Street and Ravenshaw Street holding 2.2 megalitres.

Emergency water restrictions suggest that council may need to start transporting water into town, however, Mr Scott indicates Gloucester isn't at that stage yet.

"We would only start to cart water to Gloucester if the river flow drops below three megalitres per day. If the flow continues to drop beyond that point we would ramp up carting to Gloucester to keep up with demand," he explained.

"It is very costly but the intention would be to make sure that everyone has a minimum water supply no matter what happens. We have still got a while to go before we reach this level, the river flows are low but they are holding up around 10 megalitres per day."

In the event that water needs to be carted into town, the tankers would empty straight into the Cemetery Road water tower and would be distributed from there.

MidCoast Council is one of the lowest residential potable water uses in regional NSW, according to a NSW Goverment report for 2017-2018

MidCoast Council is one of the lowest residential potable water uses in regional NSW, according to a NSW Goverment report for 2017-2018

MidCoast Council is also severely limiting water use. From Monday, council will only water sports fields and parks that are serviced by recycled or bore water. Beach showers along with water at boat ramps and fish cleaning tables will be turned off. Most of the roadworks teams have shifted to alternate supplies, such as bores and other static water sources.

Council will also work with affected businesses to mitigate the impacts of the restrictions.

"What we need now, apart from some good rainfall to break this horrific drought, is for everyone to assist in conserving water. A litre of water saved is a litre for tomorrow," Mr Scott said.

Which is something he's already knows MidCoast residents are good at given the region ranked in the top 10 lowest average residential domestic water consumers in regional NSW for 2017-2018, according to the NSW Government's Local Water Utilities report.

Residents are being asked to continue to observe the water restrictions until council advises of a change, even if there is rain.

"It is going to take major rainfall events to change our situation," Mr Scott said.

A few tips:

Collect grey water by placing buckets in your shower, collecting your washing machine water or using kitchen sink water - and use this water on garden plants. If you are washing baby nappies or other soiled clothing, do not collect and reuse that water.

To download fact sheets or find out more about water restrictions, head to www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/waterrestrictions. There's also lots of information to help households save water, at www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Water-Services/Managing-Water-Use.

For more information about the NSW Government LWU report, visit www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/water-utilities/lwu-performance-monitoring-data