At Central Coast Council’s first meeting for the year on February 10, Councillor Greg Best will do his utmost to convince his fellow councillors to seek Ministerial advice on the best time to introduce Level 2 water restrictions in the region.
The move follows several failed attempts by Cr Best late in 2019 to ensure Level 1 restrictions are skipped and the stricter Level 2 introduced as soon as the Mangrove Creek Dam level falls to its trigger point of 50% capacity.
As at February 4, the dam level was 50.3%, with the trigger level estimated to be reached within a week or so (restrictions were introduced on Feb 7).
Recent rains could see that timeline extended if enough rain falls in the catchment to affect dam levels over the coming week.
Other councillors remained unconvinced by Cr Best’s claims that the region was facing a “water emergency”, with Mayor, Lisa Matthews, offering assurances that the situation was well under control.
Cr Best will appeal to councillors on Monday to put partisanship aside.
“I appreciate that our major parties do not often see eye to eye, however I appeal to you all now to come together around what is emerging to be one of the most critical issues we may face,” he said in a councillor’s note.
“This is not a squabble over a DA or how many trees to plant in a park, or whether the staff have got it right or wrong, this is about running this region and its 350,000 residents and ratepayers out of drinking water, not to mention their businesses.”
Cr Best said with Level 1 restrictions, which could be introduced within a week, almost identical to the current Water Wise restrictions, implementing them would be nothing more than a band-aide.
“We have to get serious on this issue,” he said.
“The introduction of Level 2 will still allow our community to enjoy their gardens and their lawns, our kids to play on sporting fields and businesses to operate effectively.
“However, what it won’t allow us to do is to consume more than an extra 2 billion litres of water between now and August, when Level 2 is likely to come in.
“These are simple steps that will and can make an enormous difference,” he said.
Cr Best said that with a continuation of current weather patterns, the region would be “hurtling towards Level 5” restrictions within 15 months.
“These prohibitive restrictions will result in almost zero external water usage whatsoever, crippling our nursery industry, bowling greens, cricket pitches and sporting fields,” he said.
“Pools will be mothballed and lawns and gardens will most certainly be sacrificed.”
Cr Best says that with Council already having resolved to proclaim a Central Coast Climate Emergency and both Sydney and Hunter Water having gone to “precautionary” Level 2 restrictions on advice from State Water Minister, Melinda Pavey, it is time for Central Coast Council to seek similar Ministerial advice.
He says action now could prevent having to consider constructing a multi million dollar desalination plant in the future.
Agenda item 7.5
Central Coast Council ordinary meeting, Feb 10
Council website, Feb 6