Water restrictions in place as the big dry continues

Michael Weaver 18 November 2019 1
The Shoalhaven River at Bombay

The Shoalhaven River at Bombay earlier this year, near where Braidwood’s water supply is pumped from. Photo: Alex Rea.

Residents of Braidwood and Bungendore will need to further tighten their water use as the towns move to water restrictions for the first time since 2010.

While mandatory water conservation measures have been in place at Captains Flat, Googong and Queanbeyan for some time, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) will introduce water restrictions in Braidwood and Bungendore from Friday (22 November).

Braidwood draws its water from the Shoalhaven River, while the Bungendore supply is drawn from underground bores.

QPRC Mayor Tim Overall said the flow of water in the Shoalhaven River at Braidwood had dipped suddenly which saw the decision made to go straight to level two restrictions.

“The Braidwood supply is reliant on flows into the Shoalhaven River and while there is still water available, we need to reduce the demand on the river. We have an alternate off-river storage which remains in a healthy position,” Cr Overall said.

The off-river storage is a reservoir that holds water pumped from the river.

“This is the first time since 2010 that Braidwood and Bungendore have been placed on water restrictions and comes after a long period of below-average rainfall,” Cr Overall said.

“The Bungendore water supply is drawn from underground bores and while they are still performing well, monitoring of the water table suggests that stage one restrictions should be imposed at this stage. Council has recently received approval to increase its draw on the underground water supply from a deeper source in Bungendore and works to progress this will be occurring in the near future.”

Cr Overall said that while enforcement can be enacted under water restrictions, council staff will focus on education and the cooperation of community members at this stage.

Braidwood’s stage two water restrictions encourage residents to reduce their water consumption by 25 per cent.

In Bungendore, the aim is for a 10 per cent reduction in water consumption.

Measures to achieve these targets include handheld watering instead of using sprinklers, watering under the odds and evens system during set times of the day, not filling or emptying swimming pools without written exemptions, and a range of other measures outlined.

Water storage tanks, dams and lakes must not be filled or topped up other than with non-potable water.

Any vehicle may be washed at a commercial car wash that recycles water or holds an exemption allowing the use of potable water. Vehicles may also be washed on a lawn or other porous surface wherever possible, but not more than once per week.

Businesses and other users may apply for exemptions from the restrictions. These exemptions will be considered by staff on a case-by-case basis.

Water restrictions are not required in Captains Flat, with storage currently at 100 per cent, while the Queanbeyan urban area, including Googong, follows the advice of Icon Water which is not currently considering water restrictions.

As of 15 November, Googong Dam was at 50.77 per cent capacity.

Bombay Bridge over the Shoalhaven River

The Bombay Bridge over the Shoalhaven River where water levels are at their lowest in decades. Photo: Alex Rea.

The water restrictions come as the region faces near-record temperatures in the high 30s being forecast later this week.

The Bureau of Meteorology also said that rainfall is likely to be below average for the remainder of November and December.

“Summer as a whole is likely to be drier than average in parts of the east, with warmer than average temperatures likely,” the Bureau said in its latest climate outlook.

A QPRC spokesperson said that while water restrictions are not in place in Queanbeyan and Captains Flat, residents are encouraged to be mindful of their water usage and follow the permanent water conservation measures on the council’s website.

Further information on water restrictions and conservation measures are on the QPRC website.

In the ACT, water storage levels have fallen from 84 per cent to 52 per cent and if that decline continues, Icon Water has raised the prospect that water restrictions could be introduced by the end of next year.


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One Response to Water restrictions in place as the big dry continues
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MERC600 MERC600 5:17 pm 18 Nov 19

We need another Bob Hawke. When he won the 83 election a long drought ended, and I remember a cartoon showing Hawke dressed as Moses, with him saying ‘so much for the drought, now for the deficit.’

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