Council to introduce Level 4 severe water restrictions

The intense drought and falling water levels have prompted the council to introduce severe water restrictions.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is advising the local community that Level 4 'severe' water restrictions are being introduced on Tuesday January 28 for residents and businesses, and Tuesday 25 February for commercial users until further notice.

A commercial user is a registered business that relies on the use of water as part of their business activities to produce an income. For businesses who do not rely on water to produce an income, residential water restrictions apply

Like much of the state, the Port Macquarie-Hastings region is in intense drought, and according to the Bureau of Meteorology, there is a continued uncertain rainfall outlook for the coming months.

The combined water levels in our regions 2 storage dams has fallen to 39%, and in an effort to further reduce overall demand and extend the limited water storage levels, Council have resolved to move to Level 4 'severe' water restrictions before reaching the adopted 35% trigger level.

Director Dan Bylsma said that the aim of Level 4 'severe' water restrictions is to reduce overall demand by 20%.

"The most notable changes are that there is a total ban on all potable outdoor residential water use, and commercial operators are limited to critical use only," said Mr Bylsma.

"Whilst we have received some much needed rain in recent days, it will take several months of above average rainfall and at least 4 months of pumping from the Hastings River to increase our water storage to the level where we can relax Level 4 'severe' water restrictions.

"As we continue to be reliant on our stored water, as a community we need to continue to work together to conserve this limited supply," Mr Bylsma said.

"Should we receive little rain, and consumption remains consistent, we will continue to draw down our storages and may reach the trigger point for moving to 'emergency' water restrictions within the next 2 months."

There are potential significant impacts on commercial users, and this has prompted Council to delay the implementation of Level 4 'severe' water restrictions for commercial users until Tuesday 25 February.

During this time, Council staff will engage with commercial users and businesses around water saving measures that could be implemented to minimise the impact the restrictions may have.

Residential, business or commercial customers who may be unable to comply with the Level 4 'severe' water restrictions can apply for an exemption, and an assessment by Council staff will be undertaken on an individual basis.

In addition, Council staff will work with residents, businesses and commercial users to reduce their water use by assisting in completing a Water Savings Action Plan.

"Council itself are a significant user of water in order to conduct our operations, and a thorough assessment and action plan is in place to ensure we can continue to provide the services our community expect, whilst also minimising our water use," explained Mr Bylsma.

"Our community continues to do a great job in conserving water, however we all need to think how we might be able to further reduce our use, and Council strongly encourage everyone to sit down with their family and colleagues to discuss the changes you can make."

A number of frequently asked questions, fact sheets, water saving tips and a Water Savings Action Plan are available through Council's website www.pmhc.nsw.gov.au/water

"You can also drop into one of our Customer Service Centres or call 6581 8111 for assistance and advice on what Level 4 'severe' water restrictions mean for you," added Mr Bylsma.

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