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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Public awareness of water conservation targets

The people of Canberra have been well used to water restrictions, for many years now.

Unlike the Governments of NSW and Victoria, the ACT Government took the people into their confidence, and allowed them to share a sense of pride of achieving low water usage targets. That worked much better than NSW, where the Government panicked prior to the 2007 election, and signed up for a totally un-necessary Desalination Plant, costing us more than 2 billion dollars (and that is just the "published, quoted" price. Who knows what the real cost will turn out to be before it is finished.

I was in Canberra just after the January 2003 fires, which was the peak of their drought. People took it as a matter of civic pride to have a dead lawn. Some went overboard and "dobbed in" their neighbours for so-called illegal watering. These people were quickly dubbed the "Water Nazis". However, six years on the mobile signs are still flashing their message to commuters on the main arterial roads around Canberra. Meanwhile water recycling (draining bath-water onto the front lawn, etc) is still commonplace in Canberra. People feel proud of their kids learning how to conserve water, and more importantly, how to not waste it.
What's wrong with that?

Incidentally, Canberra is a much drier city than Melbourne (normally) but they have a target of 105ML per person per day. Melbourne's target is 155 ML. What's the problem with Melbourne people? Are they 50% dirtier than Canberrans that they need so much more water?
In reality, the actual levels, (in winter admittedly) are well under the target. This was taken on 11 June, so it reports the per person water consumption for 10 June 2009.
Dam levels are published daily, on the main roads - for all the world to see.
Note that with the dam levels holding at 43 per cent, the Canberrans are still being held at Level 3 restrictions - instead of retuning to the traditional wasteful levels of previous years.
Good on them.

This is something which I believe the ACT has managed well.
There are many other things they do with which I do not agree.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

****** ****** ******
The ABC Radio local news service and the Sydney Daily Telegraph report that Sydney Water Restrictions have been eased.

The new rules will also take effect from midnight.

"The community has responded tremendously during the drought to save every drop," Mr Costa said.

"These few simple rules reinforce the importance of using water responsibly and minimising waste. It gives people more flexibility to maintain their gardens and manage water around the home," he said.

Under the old regime, various levels of restrictions were introduced to cut back water usage as dam levels fell.

Over the past five years, Sydney, Illawarra and Blue Mountains residents were forced to live with increasingly tougher restrictions.

Under the existing Level 3 restrictions, hand-held watering could only be done on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10am and after 4pm.

Watering systems and sprinklers were banned entirely.

The new rules allow for the hand-held hoses, sprinklers and watering systems to be used on gardens daily, but in the same time periods.

Children will also be allowed to play under sprinklers on hot days.

Under the old restrictions, businesses such as nurseries and landscape gardeners were required to obtain exemptions for water use. They no longer have to seek them.

Automatic exemptions will also apply to market gardeners, bowling greens, cricket wickets, golf tees and croquet, hockey, tennis and horse-racing surfaces.


Sydney Water's website does not carry this information.

Typical for them to have outdated information on their website.


Current restrictions are now:

  • Hand-held hosing of lawns and gardens and drip irrigation is allowed only on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10 am and after 4 pm
  • Hosing of vehicles at residential premises is permitted only with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure water cleaning equipment (to a maximum of 10L/minute)
  • Hosing residential building structures including windows, walls and gutters is allowed using a hose with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure water cleaning equipment (to a maximum of 10L/minute)
  • No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths or driveways at any time
  • No other watering systems or sprinklers are to be used at any time
  • A permit from Sydney Water is required to fill new or renovated pools bigger than 10,000 litres
  • No hoses or taps to be left running unattended, except when filling pools or containers
Source: Sydney Water - as at 21 June 2009, 8:00am.

It is madness - un-necessary madness - to reduce the restrictions.
It simply promotes wastefulness, of a precious resource.


mick said...

Well you certainly couldn't miss those signs! and public awareness has to be a good thing.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
You cannot miss the signs - right beside the roads, and they are really simple - just a typical road warning device, programmed with 3 different "slides".
Simple device and brilliant PR at the same time.
I just heard this morning that Sydney has softened their "water restrictions". I just do not understand the Governments' obsession with lifting water restrictions - unless it is simply driven by the desire to obtain more revenue from the Water Utilities.
It is un-necessary, and wasteful.

Lynn said...

Totally agree.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Lynn
Support is always welcomed in water issues.