Stricter water restrictions in looming “water security emergency”

Mangrove Creek DamMangrove Creek Dam

[Central Coast] Water restrictions could be imposed in less than seven weeks as levels at Mangrove Creek Dam continue to fall despite recent heavy rains.

Levels at the dam were recorded at 52.5 per cent on Monday, September 2, with a drier than average Spring predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology. And if Councillor Greg Best has his way, Level 2 restrictions will be imposed as soon as the dam hits 50 per cent. Central Coast Council voted in February to lift the bar at which Level 1 restrictions would apply from 42 to 50 per cent, but Best says even this is not enough as drought conditions continue.

Best will put a motion to the Council meeting on September 9 for Level 2 restrictions to be introduced as soon as levels dip to 50 per cent. In what he describes as a water security emergency, Best said Council needed to take a proactive and leading role in what is emerging to be possibly one of our most significant challenges. To put it simply, if inaction is the order of the day and we are not blessed with rain, we will run 340,000 people, residents, ratepayers and businesses out of water, he said.

Currently our region consumes approximately 70- 80 megalitres of water per annum. To sharpen focus around the task we are facing, climate experts indicate a 70 per cent chance of an El Nino forming in the next few months that will cement even lower rainfall patterns.

Since the last major drought, climate variability has become a key issue.

Also, as in the past, we will not be able to rely on the Hunter through a reverse flow in our northern pipeline.

We have forecasts of a catastrophic bushfire season looming, thousands more residents have arrived since our previous drought and the Christmas tourist influx will soon be upon us. It is incumbent upon us to act decisively and swiftly around this developing issue. Best said even if a once mooted desalination plant were constructed over three years, it would produce just 20 megalitres per annum. Even with this technology, our region would severely struggle, he said.

I believe our community will step up and join us in working together to manage this emerging issue. Level 2 restrictions would prohibit the use of fixed hoses or sprinklers and limit use of hand held hoses with nozzles to one hour a day, three days a week, during designated hours.

Under the Water Wise Rules which apply at the moment, watering is permitted any day before 10am and after 4pm. Watering of nurseries, commercial gardens, sporting fields and ovals would also be restricted.

Source: Agenda item 6.5 Central Coast Council Meeting, Sep 9, Bureau of Meteorology website, Sep 2 Central Coast Council website, Sep 2

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