Tenterfield Dam drops to 40 per cent, level 4 water restrictions triggered

Car washing is off the chores list, as Level 4 restrictions arrive for town water users.
Car washing is off the chores list, as Level 4 restrictions arrive for town water users.

Level 4 water restrictions for those on Tenterfield town water come into effect on Friday, February 15.

For households the restrictions mean approved micro sprays/garden watering systems or handheld hose can be used for only one hour per day from 6.30pm (DST). 

Tenterfield Shire Council chief executive Terry Dodds said the level of Tenterfield Dam is dropping at an alarming rate. By the end of this month it will be down nine per cent since Christmas, bring it to 40 per cent capacity.

Level 4 water restrictions aim to reduce normal daily household consumption by at least 30 per cent, with a target of 180-260 litres per person per day. Policing of the restrictions now comes into play and fines may be issued.

Council will connect one of its generators to the previously flood-damaged Shirley Park bore in the next few days, following ongoing and continuing difficulties to get approval for mains power connection involving Essential Energy and Origin Energy. 

"The customer service, ill-defined unclear approval process and difficulty in trying get hold of a real person who can expedite progress in these organisations is appalling," Mr Dodds said.

"Political help is being sought now."

While the bore can pump 600,000 litres a day it can't be the sole source of supply to council’s water treatment plant as the bore water salt levels are higher than expected. For the bore water to be used as part of Tenterfield’s potable water supply it has to be mixed with better quality dam water, to dilute salt levels prior to water treatment.

As the dam water level drops, Mr Dodds said there will come a point where there is inadequate bore water salt dilution and the Shirley Park bore will revert to being a potential source for stock water.

Although hopefully that predicament is some time off, Mr Dodds said the only options then to replenish the dam is bountiful rain, or trucking in water from elsewhere.

"The dam and water treatment plant were built 91 years ago, and this is only the second time the water level has dropped this low due to drought."

In addition to the one-hour a day restriction on approved watering systems and handheld hosing, for households Level 4 restrictions mean the filling of swimming pools and spas is banned as is washing cars, water cleaning of paved hard surfaces, and the use of fixed hoses or sprinklers.

Commercial properties also face tighter restrictions. Public gardens, sporting grounds and showgrounds can use hand held hoses  for one hour a day from 6.30pm (DST). 

Nurseries can use hand held hoses for up to two hours between 6.30pm and 8.30pm (DST). Market gardens can use sprinklers during the same period.

Using water for ready mix concrete is limited to eight hours of operation per day. The use of automatic stock troughs is now limited to filling between 9am and 5pm (DST) daily.

The operation of fountains and auto flush toilets/urinals is banned. Water carters require council approval.

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