THE state government has imposed new rules designed to save 1 billion litres of water annually and drought-proof the Hunter for the next 20 years.
The Water Wise Rules are part of the NSW government's Lower Hunter Water Plan and will bring the region's water rules into line with those in Sydney and the Central Coast.
State Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Kevin Humphries said the new rules would play a vital role in drought-proofing the region in the face of a 20 per cent increase in population during the next two decades.
"It's been a very dry year to date throughout the Hunter and the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting even less rain over the next three months," Mr Humphries said.
As a result dam levels in the Hunter have dropped from 96 per cent this time last year to 81 per cent, while the Hunter's original water storage, Chichester Dam, is at 58 per cent.
Rule-breakers face fines of $220 for an individual and $550 for any business.
The three key Water Wise rules are:
1. All hand-held hoses must have a trigger nozzle.
2. Watering outdoors is permitted before 10am and after 4pm.
3. No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths and driveways.
■ Hunter Water will hand out free trigger nozzles this Saturday, July 12, at Bunnings Kotara, 10.30am.