Environment

Eurobodalla lowers water restrictions, but Council says crisis is not over yet

Genevieve Jacobs 3 March 2020
Deep Creek dam

Recent rainfall has filled Deep Creek dam to more than 60 per cent, easing restrictions. Photo: File.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s director of infrastructure Warren Sharpe says that easing weather conditions have enabled the Shire to drop water restrictions back to level three.

Mr Sharpe said the easing from level four to level three restrictions was a result of increased water in the shire’s Deep Creek Dam supply.

“Recent heavy rains have seen water flowing in our rivers, allowing us to resume pumping. Deep Creek Dam is currently back to just over 60 per cent capacity,” Mr Sharpe said.

“However, we are by no means home free. It will take a lot more rain and several months of pumping before we can ease restrictions further. If rain fails to fall, a return to level four restrictions is possible.”

Most outdoor water use remains banned in the Shire because even under favourable conditions, it will still take several months and continuing rain to replenish the local water supply. Mr Sharpe said the Deep Creek dam has only just hit 60 per cent full.

Water is pumped from the Deua River into Deep Creek Dam near Mogo, just past the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens, before entering the Shire’s reticulation system.

The dam has a catchment of 320 hectares and a capacity of 4900 million litres. While Deep Creek Dam is generally considered to be sufficient to supply the Shire’s current needs, work on a second storage facility is underway in the southern part of the shire to ensure future supply.

Restrictions were first imposed in November 2019. As supplies dropped by about 1.5 per cent each week, Council made the call to go straight to level three in the belief that it would be more feasible than jumping through the stages during a busy holiday season.

However, the fire season placed major demands on supply, with Council issuing multiple pleas during the emergency for residents to avoid depleting supplies by leaving their sprinklers on in the face of fire threats.

Level four water restrictions were imposed in late January, when Mr Sharpe described conditions as “unprecedented”, pending any significant rainfall.

“We’ve experienced how it feels to have no power. We do not want to experience how it feels to have no water. Extra effort in saving water is necessary so we don’t need to go to the much stricter level five restrictions in the future.

“There will be ash from the fires for some time. Washing down houses and decks only wastes valuable water we need for drinking, bathing and protecting lives and property.”

However heavy rainfalls during the last month have eased conditions significantly, prompting the decision to ease restrictions.

Mr Sharpe said that under level three water restrictions, outdoor water use is banned, except:

  • One hand held hose for all gardening, up to 60 minutes per day between either 6-8 am or 6-8 pm
  • One hand-held hose to top up existing private pools and spas fitted with covers, up to 60 minutes per day between either 6-8 am or 6-8 pm
  • Washing private vehicles or flushing boat motors on grass area with buckets and a final rinse with trigger-nozzle hose.

“Gardeners can retire their watering cans and use a handheld hose for up to 60 minutes per day between either 6-8 am or 6-8 pm. Same applies to topping up your pool or spa. If you really must wash your car do it on the grass with buckets and a final rinse with a trigger-nozzle hose”, a Council spokesman said.

For more information about Eurobodalla’s water restrictions visit https://www.esc.nsw.gov.au/water, pick up a brochure at the shire’s libraries, or call 1800 441 070 for recorded information with currently allowed and prohibited water use.

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