Braidwood shifts to water restrictions as supplies diminish

Level three restrictions aim for a daily town usage limit of 360 kilolitres.
Level three restrictions aim for a daily town usage limit of 360 kilolitres.

Braidwood will move to level three restrictions from Friday in an attempt to stave off the possibility of the twon running out of water by early next year.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council announced the move on Thursday. The restrictions set a 35 per cent reduction target based on the long-term average usage for this time of year.

For Braidwood, it means a total average daily usage target of 360kl, a spokesperson said.

Under level three, sprinklers cannot be used, nor can lawns be watered. Gardens can only be watered by using a watering can or hand-held trigger nozzle and can only be done between 7am and 10am and between 7pm and 10pm on alternate days under the odds and evens system. The system refers to houses with an odd number street address being able to water on odd numbered dates (1, 3, 5 etc) and even numbered houses being able to water on even numbered dates (2, 4, 6 etc).

Level 3 also means no emptying, filling or topping up of public or private swimming pools without written exemptions; no cleaning of paved areas, buildings or windows unless required due to an accident, fire or health hazard; no filling of water tanks with other than non-potable water; no washing of any vehicle except at commercial car washes that recycle water or hold an exemption; and other restrictions on use of water in construction.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Mayor, Tim Overall, said the restrictions were necessary due to the lack of rain, a rapidly declining primary source of water and high levels of water usage while the community faced recent bushfires.

"The fires surrounding Braidwood over the past two weeks has been the major focus of many Braidwood residents," he said.

"But as the fires begin to subside, we must now face the reality that water usage has understandably, and very reasonably, been higher than we would have liked.

"That, combined with the Shoalhaven River rapidly declining, means that greater effort now needs to be made to conserve what water we have left."

Braidwood's water is pumped from the Shoalhaven River to an off-river storage dam before going through a treatment process and into the town water system. The dam has a 72ML capacity and is currently just under 85pc full.

The council says Braidwood is currently using water quicker than the council can pump it from the river. When the river source is exhausted, the off-river dam will be the only remaining water.

"We are often asked when will Braidwood run out of water. An exact date is difficult to predict and is influenced by a range of factors including daily usage, Council's ability to extract water from the river and rainfall," Cr Overall said.

"Slight changes in any of those factors can have a big impact on predictions, which is why we are calling on all residents to increase their conservation efforts to prolong the water supply.

"If consumption stays as it currently is and there is no decent rain soon, water will likely run out in the first few months of next year."

Queanbeyan-Palerang Mayor Tim Overall says water restrictions are necessary given the strain on supplies. Photo: Sagi Biderman.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Mayor Tim Overall says water restrictions are necessary given the strain on supplies. Photo: Sagi Biderman.

'Exploring solutions'

The council says it's working with the state government on options to prolong the town's water supply.

This includes exemptions and changes to licensing arrangements to allow pumping of water from other sources as well as scaling back on the council's own activities such as road works. The council this week announced a temporary suspension of maintenance grading of unsealed rural roads due to the lack of water.

It is also preparing for "the worst case scenario" - running out of water.

Cr Overall said it would mean trucking the resource into town.

"Council does not take the decision to raise the level of restrictions lightly, because we know the impact it can have on business, and the impact a dry and dusty town can have on everyday life," Cr Overall said.

Bungendore, where water supply is drawn from underground bores, remains on level one restrictions and is being closely monitored.

Water for Queanbeyan and surrounds comes from Icon Water in the ACT which increased the size of its storage capacity in recent years through the expansion of Cotter Dam. Icon recently launched a 'Care for Water' campaign asking residents to reduce their usage in attempts to stave off any future restrictions with which Queanbeyan and surrounds would be required to comply.

"While Icon Water have not yet declared Canberra and Queanbeyan to be on water restrictions, the community does not need to wait until formal declarations are made to increase their water conservation efforts," Cr Overall said.

Council will be looking to increase community education and awareness within the local community and visitors over the Christmas/New Year period.

The requirements of water restrictions can be found at: www.qprc.nsw.gov.au/water-restrictions along with tips for water conservation.

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

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