Parts of NSW will face tougher water restrictions in an attempt to stem rapidly falling dam levels as the state grapples with drought.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Water Minister Melinda Pavey on Thursday announced Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra would be subject to level 2 water restrictions from December 10.
They are usually enforced when Greater Sydney’s dam levels fall to 40 per cent but are being brought forward. The total storage is currently at 46 per cent.
“The amount of water we’re losing every month is accelerating faster than it’s been before,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
“We’re doing this because we want to ensure we have water supply without any concerns.
“We’re doing this because we’re being cautious but also because there’s no doubt the acceleration of depletion of water is more than we’ve had in the past.”
Under the restrictions, people will need to use a bucket or watering can to water gardens between approved times.
Cars can only be washed with a bucket or taken to a commercial car wash and the topping up of pools and spas will be limited to 15 minutes a day with a trigger nozzle.
“Basically these restrictions mean you can’t use a hose and that is going to be a challenge for some people, especially our older population, and we’re very aware of that,” Ms Pavey told reporters.
Premier @GladysB has just announced level 2 water restrictions for Sydney amid one of the most severe droughts on record. It means people will have to use a bucket to wash their cars or water their gardens from December 10. @claretodhunter pic.twitter.com/0NipPiz59T
— WSFM 101.7 (@WSFM1017) November 21, 2019
Fines of $220 apply for residential breaches while businesses face a potential $550 penalty.
Labor supports bringing the restrictions forward but also wants the coalition to expand the capacity of Sydney’s desalination plant which returned to operation in January.
“Sydneysiders are heeding the warnings and are doing their bit to save water but it is clear that it is not going to be enough,” opposition water spokesman Clayton Barr said in a statement.
“The premier either has to commit to an expansion of the current facility today or investigate a new facility in the state.”
Ms Berejiklian said they were considering expanding the plant.
The Liberal leader said introducing level 2 restrictions in December would “prolong” the period before level 3 restrictions had to be considered.
Ms Pavey said Sydney water usage had dropped from about 200 litres per person per day before level 1 restrictions were introduced in June to about 183 litres per person per day in October.