Following heavy rainfall, sustained high river levels and a positive rainfall forecast, Bellingen Shire Council moved water restrictions from High (Level 2) to the lowest level of Conservation (Level C) on Monday February 10.
Level C - Water Conservation Measures mean the use of sprinklers is prohibited between the hours of 9am to 4pm.
Council water restriction are governed by strict licence conditions that relate directly to environmental flows in the Bellinger River measured at Thora.
When the flows at Thora reach less than 47ML/day for five consecutive days in summer or 10 days in winter, council is required to introduce Level 1 Water restrictions.
Level 2 restrictions are imposed at flows less than 31ML/day, Level 3 at flows less than 23ML/day and Level 4 at flows less than 5ML/day.
As the shire has no dam to regulate flows or subsidise consumption at low flows, our water restrictions can fluctuate quite regularly and are dependent on rainfall.
To minimise this impact on residents, council may impose a higher restriction level longer than required to prevent too many changes and minimise confusion.
At higher river flows, the need to impose restrictions is reduced as the water that passes our bore field enters the tidal zone 600m downstream and flows out to sea.
Nonetheless, council implores residents to be water wise and conserve water at all times. Adopting a conservation habit will reduce hardship when council is forced to impose restrictions and place less stress on the environment.
Council is currently working on an options paper to secure our water supply and to help alleviate the need for regular water restrictions. This option paper should be complete in the next couple of months and will be available for community feedback.
Residents, businesses and visitors are asked to take notice of the water restriction level signs at the entrances to towns on the roadside and to visit council's website to keep informed of the current water restriction level.
A Water Restrictions table outlining what is permitted in all levels of water restrictions can be found at on the council website here.