PROPOSED WATER USE CHANGES TO GO BEFORE COUNCILORS

With level four water restrictions due to come into effect this Friday, Dubbo Regional Council staff have prepared two reports which will be presented to councilors at the Ordinary Council Meeting on Monday 4 November, which propose some changes to how water is used in the LGA.

The first report looks at the region’s current water restrictions and whether they will help sustain the region long-term. The report determined that a number of changes need to happen, including an update of the existing Drought Management Plans of the former Dubbo City and Wellington Councils, to be combined into a single LGA, and simplifying information for the community.

“A full Drought Management Plan, or Water Plan, will be presented to Council in early 2020, to include a review from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment,” said CEO Michael McMahon.

Following a review of the current management plan, a few key changes are being proposed:

  • Revised daily targets based on 4 year average water usage, in addition to the availability of water, considering all sources, based on nil rain occurring. The level four daily target will be 280 litres, as opposed to the previous 245 litres.
  • A new ‘baseline target’ of 400L per person, per day, to encourage long-term water-wise behavior.
  • The worst-case scenario is level 6, which is 195 litres per person, per day, based on groundwater supply only, with current allocations and no rain.

“At the Ordinary Council meeting, councilors will also consider proposed changes to the watering of gardens, to simplify it, while also still allowing people to keep their gardens alive,” said Mr McMahon.

“A key change from level 3 to level 4 is going from the odds and even system for external watering to two specific watering days for set times.”

If councilors accept the report, people can choose whether they want to water their gardens, or their lawns on their watering day, which will be for 30 minutes on Wednesday and 30 minutes on Sunday under level four.

“The report also looks at watering methods and has determined that the best way to water lawns is to use either a water efficient drip or fixed timed/ programmable smart water system, or handheld hoses fitted with an on/off trigger nozzle,” said Mr McMahon.

“We aren’t banning any type of watering device, we understand that a lot of people have purchased new watering devices under the guidance of existing restrictions. We are however enforcing the chosen device or system either has a fixed timer or is attended by the resident or business owner for their allocated watering time,” said Mr McMahon.

The second report going to councilors will look at Council’s parks and sporting grounds, and what can be done to reduce water consumption at those parks, as well as developing more sophisticated water usage monitoring techniques.

Council staff are working to audit sporting and open space assets, as well as ascertain costs associated with infrastructure renewal, particularly turf replacement, in the event that watering ceases and extenuating drought conditions beyond level four water restrictions, prevail,” says Director of Liveability Skye Price.

Staff are currently rolling out smart meters, to enable better monitoring of water use at sporting and open space asset sites. Other strategies include, but are not restricted to, investigation and implementation of moisture readers, as well as use of wetting agents, to enable additional reductions in water use.

“Council is focussed on saving water during this unprecedented drought, however, recreational spaces also play a critical role within the broader community, for social engagement, general health and wellbeing, as well as physical exercise,” said Ms Price.

Council has prioritised select spaces across the local government area, where irrigation will be maintained, and providing refuge during heat, enabling social interaction amongst residents and community groups; as well as creating leisure opportunities.

On level four water restrictions, watering at places like the outer Elizabeth Park, Tom Culkin Oval and Bicentennial Park will cease. 

Councillors will consider adopting the recommendations in both reports at the Ordinary Council meeting on Monday 4 November.

Last Edited: 01 Nov 2019

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