When do we consider water restrictions?
MidCoast Water Services operates five water supply schemes – four of which are reliant on the flows of nearby rivers.
The Manning scheme, which provides water to customers from Crowdy Head in the north to Tarbuck Bay in the south, draws its water from the Manning River. We have a storage dam at Bootawa, which is filled by pumping water from the Manning River just upstream from Wingham (intake pictured).
This pumping is reliant on good flows in the river. The Gloucester water supply is similarly reliant on flows in the Barrington River, Stroud on the Karuah River and Bulahdelah on the Crawford River.
It is when river levels fall too low to allow pumping and storage dams can’t be kept at capacity that we may need to look at introducing water restrictions.
Once we can no longer pump from the river and the dam/storage starts to fall, we usually move into 'moderate' water restrictions. 'Moderate' restrictions limit the use of water outdoors to one hour every second day with a handheld hose.
'Severe' restrictions are usually implemented on the Manning scheme when the dam is at less than 50 per cent of the easily accessible storage. These restrictions ban all outdoor water use and urge the community to be careful with their indoor use.
An emergency restriction period is entered when we are forced to draw into the deep storage of Bootawa Dam.
A similar situation operates for the Barrington, Karuah and Crawford rivers. As these areas rely on their own water source, sometimes we do have different towns on different water restriction levels.
The Tea Gardens/Hawks Nest water supply is sourced from an underground aquifer and is not as dependent on seasonal climatic variations, however at times restrictions may be required.
See more: How water restrictions work