Days of rainfall across the Hunter has allowed the Myall Lakes National Park to reopen but failed to stave off the introduction of tighter water restrictions from Monday.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service said rainfalls recorded since Thursday had "moderately alleviated" the dry conditions that posed enough risk to put the area off limits. The Mining Road fire trail and Mungo walking track remain closed.
The announcement came the same day that Lower Hunter water users were limited to 15 minutes of outdoor watering every second day under Level 2 water restrictions.
Vehicles and buildings can only be washed with a bucket and showers are limited to four minutes.
Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the limitations were crucial to conserving the region's drinking water supply after it hit its lowest point in almost four decades.
"While it was a very welcome sight to see some rain, the severe drought continues across much of our state, including in the Lower Hunter," Mrs Pavey said.
"The rain has helped wet the ground, but unfortunately due to the prolonged dry conditions, more follow-up rain is needed to significantly boost the region's dams.
Hunter Water acting chief executive Graham Wood said the utility was prioritising efforts to find and fix leaks across the network.
"We recognise the community is doing their bit to save water, with usage down 18 per cent and I'd like to say thank you for following the water restrictions and loving water," Mr Wood said.
"We're doing our part by increasing our active leak detection work and bringing in additional crews to repair leaks quicker. We are also in the final stages of developing an assistance program for customers who find and fix leaks on their properties."
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
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.