A year after water restrictions were introduced amid drought and fast dropping water levels, Hunter Water has announced that restrictions will be removed from October 1.
Speaking at Grahamstown Dam, the Hunter's largest drinking water source, in Raymond Terrace on Friday, Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary said the community's efforts in saving water during the past 12 months, weather patterns and the authority's work in fixing leaks across its network had contributed to the decision to lift the restrictions.
"Since water restrictions were introduced, Lower Hunter residents have used on average 15 per cent less water than we expected, which is equivalent to saving the water use of 52,000 households," Mr Cleary said.
"On top of that, Hunter Water's significant investment in leakage reduction across its network has led to a further 13 per cent fall last financial year, bringing the total reduction to 34 per cent in three years.
"This is an outstanding effort by the Lower Hunter community. These results, combined with decent winter rainfall and a promising weather outlook for wetter than average conditions in spring, are behind the decision to remove Level 1 water restrictions.
"While this is welcome news, we can't lose sight of the lessons from the severe drought and return to past water use habits. I'm pleased that so many people across the region have adopted the new habits brought on by water restrictions and it makes sense for them to continue these behaviours in their daily routines to help save our precious resource."
Level 1 water restrictions were introduced for the first time in 25 years on September 19, 2019. This restriction is triggered when water storage depleted to 60 per cent full.
As water storage levels continued to drop down to 54 per cent, Level 2 water restrictions were introduced on January 20, 2020 as the region's dams reached their lowest levels in almost four decades - since the 1980s drought.
Following rainfall in early February, water restrictions were wound back to Level 1 on February 24, 2020.
As of September 17, 2020, Hunter Water's storage levels across all its assets was 79.4 per cent. Grahamstown Dam's storage level was 81.4 per cent; Tomago Sandbeds 71.6 per cent; Chichester Dam 89.1 per cent and; Anna Bay Sandbeds 70.8 per cent.
From October 1, Hunter Water customers will return to permanent water conservation measures, which is being promoted through the Smart Water Choices campaign.
This encourages residents continue to make water-saving actions such as four minute showers, not watering the garden between 10am and 4pm and waiting to use the dishwasher or washing machine until there is a full load.
"It's important that we all continue to save now for summer and not become complacent with our water use. The severe drought demonstrated how quickly our water storages can fall during the warmer months as they have large surface areas and are prone to evaporation," Mr Cleary said. "We need everyone to help us 'Love Water' all year round by continuing to make smart water choices in their everyday behaviour."