Canberra region “strongly urged” to care for water in new conservation campaign

Genevieve Jacobs 3 December 2019 31
 Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall, Icon Water CEO Ray Hezkial and Minister Mick Gentleman

Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall, Icon Water MD Ray Hezkial and Minister Mick Gentleman with local schoolchildren at the Care for Water campaign launch. Photos: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

The message about Canberra’s water supply is that this is serious. Despite the enlarged Cotter Dam and a generally responsive population, the devastating long-running drought means water conservation measures are now an urgent priority for the ACT region.

Icon Water, the ACT government and Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council joined forces this week to launch the Care for Water Campaign, asking Canberrans to take personal responsibility for our water consumption for the good of the whole community.

They were accompanied by a bunch of Canberra and district school kids from Gowrie and Kingsford Smith schools and St Gregory’s at Queanbeyan, all of whom had been working on their own water-saving ideas.

Restrictions are already a reality for Braidwood and Bungendore residents. At Braidwood, the Shoalhaven has stopped flowing and the town has 180 days of targeted use left. Stage Two restrictions are attempting to cut use by 25 per cent.

Icon Water: Water Conservation Campaign Launch

Icon Water, the ACT government and Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council joined forces this week to launch the Care for Water Campaign. Photo: Supplied.

Bungendore is supplied by water from bores through fractured rocks. Locals there are on Stage One restrictions for a 10 per cent reduction target. If the current record low inflows continue, restrictions are likely in Canberra by late next year, too.

So what can you do? Plenty, the government and Icon Water suggest.

Icon Water: Water Conservation Campaign Launch

Minister Mick Gentleman urging Canberrans to Care for Water. Photo: Supplied.

“It means thinking about the water use: limit showers to four-minutes, turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, don’t water your garden after rain, ensure that sprinklers only water between 6:00 pm and 9:00 am,” Minister Gentleman said today.

“The extension of the Cotter Dam and the Murrumbidgee to Googong pipeline means that we have good water storage but our levels have gone from 84 per cent to 52 per cent in the ACT. That means we all need to think hard about taking responsibility as the summer months approach.”

Water saving ideas

Water-saving ideas from Kingsford Smith school students.

Icon Water will roll out their water-saving campaign across billboards, bus shelters, on radio and via social media, aiming to get every Canberran saving water wherever possible.

Icon Water Managing Director Ray Hezkial said that while the ACT is relatively blessed with secure water supplies thanks to the community’s investment in the enlarged Cotter Dam, the water utility constantly monitors weather, usage patterns and storage capacity.

“This is a precious finite resource”, he said. “We want everyone to have a conversation with their families about how to save water. If you even turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, that will save up to 32 litres of water.

“We’ve been on permanent conservation measures in the ACT since 2010, so the common-sense rules are already in place.”

Icon Water: Water Conservation Campaign Launch

Ray Hezkial Icon Water MD, discussing water saving tips with the school children. Photo: Supplied.

One of the major communications methods has been Icon Water’s school outreach program. Icon Water’s community engagement officer, Kate Rhook, says that local students visit the Cotter from Year Two to learn about water use and discuss how they’ll save water as part of the school curriculum.

“Some of the kids have brought us in their raindrop promises about how they’ll save water,” she said. Ideas from the students included washing hands in buckets, connecting rinse water to the garden, singing a song to time a short shower and that old favourite from the last big drought, “if it’s yellow let it mellow”.

The raindrop promises were presented to the Legislative Assembly. For more resources on how you can save water at home, go to Icon Water.

How do you save water at your home, work or school?

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
31 Responses to Canberra region “strongly urged” to care for water in new conservation campaign
qprc1 qprc1 2:22 am 18 Jan 20

The ACT building codes should make it mandatory for all new residences (and commercial buildings too for that matter) to have grey water systems and water harvesting (i.e. water tanks). Some developments do this but that’s at the initiative of the developer not the Government.

qprc1 qprc1 2:12 am 18 Jan 20

If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, let it drown.

Acton Acton 5:11 pm 06 Dec 19

After construction of LBG the valves on Scrivener Dam were closed in September 1963 and with the eventual breaking of the 1960-63 drought, the lake reached planned levels in April 1964. So with some decent rain, lake water levels will quickly be restored.

Pat Miller Pat Miller 4:10 am 06 Dec 19

Wake up Canberra !

Water restrictions should already be in place..

Months ago !

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:49 am 06 Dec 19

    Pat Miller care to explain why?

    Pat Miller Pat Miller 5:52 am 06 Dec 19

    Ashley Wright

    The whole country is in drought!..and on fire...water is a very precious thing atm.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 12:59 pm 06 Dec 19

    Pat Miller how does having restrictions in Canberra help someone from Bathurst or help put out a fire done at the bay? Simple answer is it doesn’t. It’s not like the water we have in our dams can be shipped in any meaningful capacity to where it may well be needed more.

    And I’m not for a moment suggesting people in Canberra shouldn’t conserve water but the notion of restrictions because other parts of the country are on restrictions doesn’t make sense.

    Our government love or hate them invested money in expanding our storage to minimise the need to restrict in periods of drought like this. Sure if it continues then down the track further restrictions (over and above our current permanent conservation measures) should be brought in. But at 50% with the forecast we have better for all to keep our gardens alive.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:36 pm 04 Dec 19

Better late than never, but this comes after a couple of years of what seemed like studied insouciance on the part of ACT authorities over the realities of our water supply, in the face of unreliable rainfall.

As the (aptly aquatic) old saying goes, it ain’t just a river in Egypt, and in Canberra, it’s far too often denial with a capital D.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:27 am 05 Dec 19

    You mention Egypt where most of the underground water has been harvested already and across northern Africa so much that soon olive trees will only grow on the northern side of the Mediterranian Sea.

    It’s a consequence of overpopulation which Australia is about to face.

Geoffrey John Randal Geoffrey John Randal 5:27 pm 04 Dec 19

Abandon the lawns and gardens

Ian Brad Mahoney Ian Brad Mahoney 3:00 pm 04 Dec 19

Come to Tassie to live - won’t stop raining here !!

Tiger Fit Tiger Fit 9:41 am 04 Dec 19

I cannot understand why water restrictions dont automatically apply when daylight savings begin? If it was applied every year at the same ,it just makes more sense than waiting until it's dire. Let's shut the gate before the proverbial horse is out". It's just common sense isn't it??

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:40 am 06 Dec 19

    Tiger Fit they kinda do. The permanent conservation measures, which in reality are like stage 1 restrictions of old vary with greater restrictions on when gardens can be watered over the spring/summer/autumn Timezone, basically during daylight savings.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:18 am 04 Dec 19

“There’s no need to flush the toilet every visit.”

That’s if it is yellow? There is that jingle which says “if it’s yellow, let it mellow……” My doctor recently said “If it’s yellow you are dehydrated”.

Seriously though, while our water storages are diminishing some attention must be given by the governmnet to building a new sewerage treatment facilty as the the current one has reached its design capability. It will cost billions but of course we need to cover Canberra with trolley tracks, poles and wire first.

    chewy14 chewy14 6:37 pm 04 Dec 19

    Where have you got the information that the current sewage treatment facility is at capacity?
    That surely would be in the news?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:24 am 05 Dec 19

    It was built to service a population of 400,000. I don’t think the government want to know about it at the moment.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:55 pm 06 Dec 19

    Got a link for that?

JS9 JS9 9:16 am 04 Dec 19

Always enjoy reading some of the comments on these articles – give a good giggle. Just for future notes:
– We are on a river system (the Murrumbidgee)
– Water prices are not higher ‘the less you use’ – we have a two tier structure with a higher rate for higher usage.
-Trying to retrofit a greywater system for reuse is quite expensive (and noting the water that goes down the drain here is reused anyway – it is treated and flows down the river from the Lower Molonglo treatment plant into NSW). It should however be a clear part and requirement of every new build.
– RCGC pays the water abstraction charge on the water they take from the lake, like anyone else that takes water for non-potable use in the Territory.
– Private water tanks are one of the most expensive ways to supplement the water supply (Yes its a bit old but still a decent indicator of relative costs).

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 8:17 am 04 Dec 19

Or we could take water for free from the lake, just like the Royal Canberra Golf Course.

Colleen Gray Colleen Gray 5:44 pm 03 Dec 19

Just a suggestion. Stop watering ovals in the middle of the day. All new buildings must provide tanks inside and outside

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 3:11 pm 03 Dec 19

If I remember correctly the water pricing charges in the ACT are higher the less you use? Reverse logic to me.

Toni Isaacson Toni Isaacson 2:23 pm 03 Dec 19

Radical thought needs to be given to the apartment situation in Canberra 'cause there are tonnes of them. I have no garden so nowhere to put my surplus water. As a tenant, I cannot change taps to low flow, I cannot install a tank, I cannot install mixers to reduce water warm up time. If I ask the landlord, my rent goes up. Would love to help - but cannot!!!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:45 pm 03 Dec 19

    Some things you can do. There's no need to flush the toilet every visit. If it's an old toilet system that uses a lot of water, the amount of water used can be reduced by adding bottles of water to the tank to reduce the storage amount. I did that with a previous house and reduced the flush by 3 litres. The toilet still flushed well. It's not always necessary for all people to shower every day. Every second day would work for many people. If hand washing dishes don't fill the kitchen sink. If a big sink, get a plastic bowl and use that in the sink to reduce water. I used to wash up and rinse two place settings, plus cooking utensils, in 3 litres of water. If using a dish washer (which uses more water than hand washing up), only run when full. Only use the washing machine when there are enough clothes to fill it. Consider if that piece of clothing really needs to go in the wash and can't be worn another day. Don't be one of those people who put on clean clothes everyday, whether or not the previous day's clothes really were dirty. That's a lot of washing and water to match.

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 2:02 pm 03 Dec 19

I can’t do a lot, can’t carry a bucket. But: have shortest showers possible, only do laundry when necessary. The main thing is that I collect the tap water while waiting for it to run hot. I use that to water my tiny garden by hand.

Darron Marks Darron Marks 1:39 pm 03 Dec 19

Just for the record how much is too much conservation. Just want to make sure we don't use too little and cause Icon to have a massive whinge and try to raise the price of water to cover their operating costs 🙄

And can we use that $140 million dollar pipe we paid for to transfer water to the water catchment ?

Have we looked into a better rebate to buy water tanks for residential properties yet just a suggestion ?

Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 12:50 pm 03 Dec 19

Why on earth aren't water restrictions in place already?

Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 11:30 am 03 Dec 19

The question really is: what are Icon doing about providing drinkable water in the future? There are hundreds of residences being built now. Will they ever stop? How do you provide water when the continent is getting drier? Now is the time to do something about not down the track when it is too late. Or is it too late now?

    Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 11:51 am 03 Dec 19

    Robyne Mitchell that’s been my point for ages. As an inland city which is not on a waterway (forget the lake), our population has a limit because of water. But Mr Barr keeps on building - and who keeps track of water use in high rise buildings and hotels?

    Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 12:05 pm 03 Dec 19

    Robyne Mitchell More to the point.What about recycling water.Theres something insane about u sding drinking water in toilets and first washing cycles

    Darron Marks Darron Marks 1:44 pm 03 Dec 19

    Water tanks could achieve that if they would offer better rebates like they currently do for light bulbs. I would think water would be a bigger priority.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site