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Joy as Dubbo water restrictions set to drop as Burrendong Dam fills

By Jessie Davies, Monday July 27, 2020 - 16:54 EST
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Kay Bennett is looking forward to watering her garden at any time. - ABC

After years of severe drought gardeners in Dubbo and central New South Wales are poised for some good news.

Dubbo Regional Council is looking to wind back water restrictions dramatically and will vote tonight to immediately reduce restrictions from Level Three to Level One.

If the vote is successful, the region's residents will once again be allowed to water their gardens through the day.

Dubbo gardener Kay Bennett said the change would allow the city to replenish gardens and lawns destroyed in the drought.

"It's been a tough few years and I'm looking forward to watering whenever it suits me," Ms Bennett said.

Since restrictions were introduced a year ago, Ms Bennett has used grey water to keep her cottage garden alive.

"It is very frustrating to lose trees and shrubs; it's happened all over the city," she said.

"Not being able to water your turf when it cost you thousands of dollars to plant is wasteful and that's happened to a lot of people."

Newfound watering freedoms

Under Level Three restrictions residents have been permitted to water their gardens twice a week and not during the heat of the day.

Under Level One water restrictions, the lowest level possible, residents are allocated 380 litres a person a day.

Watering will be permitted anytime, including the use of untimed water systems, micro sprays and fixed hoses.

Swimming pools may be filled and topped up and watering new turf will also be permitted.

Dubbo resident Marie Murphy said she hoped the region's gardeners would remain water wise despite drought conditions easing.

"It's a lesson to us that our continent is drying and we mustn't waste water," Ms Murphy said.

"In the future I expect we'll see more native trees planted and more compacted gravel in gardens."

Could water restrictions return?

The council's water restrictions have eased in line with increased inflows into Burrendong Dam.

The dam, which is the region's main water storage, is now sitting just under 25 per cent capacity; up from an historic low of 1.5 per cent last year.

Council infrastructure director Julian Geddes said restrictions could be reintroduced if drought conditions returned.

"Our drought management plan has a series of triggers that would see us return to restrictions," Mr Geddes said.

"For that to happen we would need the drought criticality rating to increase from Level Three to Four.

"We'd need a 'cease to flow' date implemented by Water NSW and we'd need to see council's water allocation wound back."

For the current water year the council has been allocated 8.7 gigalitres of surface water.

"If we were to use our full allocation of river water this year that would be 2.7 per cent of the water in Burrendong Dam — and currently it's a quarter full."


© ABC 2020

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