Local News

Mandatory water restrictions now in place for the Upper Hunter Shire

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Murrurundi Dam - Murrurundi is excluded from these 

Upper Hunter Shire will soon be on mandatory Level 1 water restrictions. 

The restrictions will be introduced from July 1 2019 for the towns of Aberdeen, Merriwa and Scone and the village of Cassilis, in the Upper Hunter Shire.

Upper Hunter Shire Council moved to put the restrictions in place at this week's Council meeting, not because of an imminent threat to the water supply in these towns, but to encourage responsible water use more generally, and to proactively respond to ongoing drought conditions. 

Murrurundi has been on water restrictions since 2017 and has been on level 6 restrictions since mid-2018. Murrurundi’s water is currently coming from an emergency bore and water carting from Scone, with very little available from the Pages River.

With the drought conditions set to continue with a dry rest of 2019 on the way, the rest of the Upper Hunter Shire is potentially entering its third summer in a row of higher than average water consumption levels.

In the 2017/18 year, water use in Scone and Aberdeen rose by 23% on the previous year, and in Merriwa use rose by 29%.

Last summer Council introduced voluntary Water-Wise Rules based on Level 1 restrictions.

So far in 2019, water use in Aberdeen, Merriwa and Scone has been more conservative than the previous year, however, these towns are still on track to reach high levels of water use, particularly if low rainfall levels continue.

Council is reviewing the Shire’s 2014 Drought Management and Emergency Response Plan, aiming to simplify the levels and trigger points for restrictions which differ across the shire.

Merriwa and Cassilis’ water supplies come from ground water supply systems, whereas Scone and Aberdeen supplies come from Glenbawn Dam (a Hunter regulated river water source). Glenbawn Dam is currently 51.3 per cent capacity as at 24 June 2019.

Upper Hunter Shire Council is a member of the Upper Hunter Water Utilities Alliance with Singleton and Muswellbrook Shire councils, who are also implementing level 1 restrictions, all of which will be in force by July 1 2019.

All Shires will enforce the rules by September 1 2019, with those who choose to misuse the water facing possible penalties.

Level 1 restrictions aim to reduce peak water consumption by limiting the following activities:

  • ·Watering of lawns and gardens only between 6am to 9am and 6pm to 9pm (during summer Daylight Saving period); and 6am to 10am and 4pm to 10pm (the rest of year).
  • ·Wash cars with a bucket and rinse with a trigger hose on your lawn.
  • ·No washing of walls and paved surfaces (use a broom).
  • ·For more information on water restrictions visit: http://upperhunter.nsw.gov.au/our-shire/water-restrictions.aspx

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse