Tighter water restrictions across Port Stephens and Hunter as dam levels continue to fall

DAM LEVELS: The total water storage capacity at Grahamstown Dam is at 55 per cent. Level 2 water restrictions will commence on January 20, 2020.
DAM LEVELS: The total water storage capacity at Grahamstown Dam is at 55 per cent. Level 2 water restrictions will commence on January 20, 2020.

Residents across the Hunter are being relied upon to 'act responsibly' in the lead up to Level 2 water restrictions which begin on January 20.

A Hunter Water spokesperson confirmed this week that the severe drought experienced across the state had impacted dams in Port Stephens and the Lower Hunter, with levels falling to their lowest in 40 years.

The area's total water storage capacity is at 54 per cent, with "individual dam levels Chichester Dam 38.7 per cent; Grahamstown Dam 54.6 per cent; Tomago Sandbeds 57.1 per cent; and Anna Bay Sandbeds 54.9 per cent".

And in response to a series of social media posts about water sharing and bore water use, the spokesperson confirmed that a water transfer agreement had been in place between Hunter Water and Central Coast Council since 2006.

"This agreement determines how and when water is shared between the regions. It's mutually beneficial as it provides additional security for both organisations' water storages by making better use of supplies and improving our drought resilience.

"Under the agreement, Hunter Water is currently receiving water from the Central Coast, not transferring."

The spokesperson added "water restrictions apply to all users of drinking water" and that as bore water was not regulated by Hunter Water, "it is not impacted by water restrictions. We do, however, encourage everyone to use all water wisely and be water efficient wherever possible."

The Level 2 water restrictions from January 20 are expected to build on the already significant savings made by our community and help preserve our supplies for as long as possible.

"We encourage everyone to continue loving water by making simple changes at home, such as reducing showers to four minutes and fixing leaks.

"It's the small things we can all do that together will help conserve our precious resource," the spokesperson said.

Under Level 2 restrictions, outdoor watering is limited to 15 minutes every second day, vehicles and buildings can only be washed with a bucket and showers are limited to four minutes.

"Since Level 1 water restrictions were introduced, our community has used 18 per cent less water than what we expected, given the very hot and dry conditions we've experienced," the spokesperson said.

"This saving amounts to the average water use of 66,000 households in the same period. It seems many residents are heeding the Water Wise behaviours."

The commencement of Level 2 restrictions will also see an increased presence of Hunter Water's team of community water officers in their role of "educating residents and businesses" about the new regulations.

"With hot and dry conditions forecast to continue over summer, our team of officers will maintain a visible presence in the region to help spread the importance of the restrictions and conservation in reducing demand on our drinking water supplies.

For water restrictions information visit, www.hunterwater.com.au/restrictions.

Level 2 restrictions

Level 2 water restrictions are an extension of the existing Level 1 restrictions and continue to focus primarily on outdoor water use, with the exception of 4-minute showers.

They are summarised as:

  • All hoses must have a trigger nozzle
  • Outdoor watering permitted every second day before 10am and after 4pm recommended for up to 15 minutes per day (odd property number = odd date of the month, even property number = even date of the month). Outdoor watering applies to hand watering with a trigger nozzle and drip irrigation systems
  • Wash vehicles and buildings with a bucket only
  • Repair dripping taps and leaking toilets as quickly as possible
  • No sprinklers
  • No hosing of hard surfaces, except for health and safety reasons
  • Limit showers to 4 minutes

Bore water

Water that is supplied from bores and rivers is not regulated by Hunter Water and is therefore not impacted by water restrictions. Water allocations for these sources are managed by the Department of Planning Industry and Investment - Water.