With a long hot summer on the way, continuing dry conditions and the memory of the millennium drought still fresh for many, it’s understandable that Canberrans are asking about water restrictions. The territory’s four dams are currently just over 50 per cent full but Icon Water General Manager Davina McCormick says Canberra’s water supply is still secure, for now.
“We have more water now than in the millennium drought. Enlarging the Cotter Dam in 2013 meant that our total capacity is now about 35 per cent bigger. More capacity, combined with permanent water conservation measures, put us in a good position to withstand prolonged dry periods. We would be in water restrictions now if it wasn’t for that investment,” McCormick said.
The ACT has had permanent water conservation measures in place since 2010. These measures, similar to Level 1 restrictions in other regions, include using hoses with a trigger, restricting garden sprinkler use to between 6:00 pm and 9:00 am and not hosing paved areas unless using a high pressure, low volume hose.
Icon Water says that dam levels are currently around 52 per cent but they are going down. Water restrictions may come into force if dam levels fall to 35-40 per cent.
McCormick says, “A key part of the decision to introduce water restrictions is dam levels, but they are not the only factor. We use a range of 35-40 per cent as an indicator that Stage 1 water restrictions may be required but there are other factors to be considered, these include the weather outlook and our overall consumption rate.
“Canberrans can play their part by being more conscious of the way they use water. We want people to think about things like not using the dishwasher or washing machine unless it is full, reducing shower times and turning the tap off when brushing your teeth. If you have a garden, consider installing rainwater tanks and greywater systems. If we all do a little, it can add up to a lot.”
McCormick says that there are significant reasons for reducing our water use.
“There is a real social cost when we are in water restrictions. As the city browns off it can affect people’s sense of well being. Our gardens suffer, our green spaces and playing fields dry out and become dusty and we won’t be able to fill our swimming pools.
“The good news is that we can all make changes that will have an impact now. We don’t have to wait. The choice is in the hands of Canberrans.”