SHOALHAVEN residents have been warned to prepare for water restrictions unless rainfall increases in coming weeks.
Shoalhaven’s dam storage has dropped to 93 per cent and river inflows have also reduced over the past few weeks.
The region’s last significant rainfall was in November.
The trigger Shoalhaven Water will use to implement level one restrictions is the first release of water from Danjera Dam.
Acting director of Shoalhaven Water Tony Holmes said if the predicted rain between now and the end of the month did not produce enough water there was a possibility restrictions could be triggered by the end of January or early February.
“While the river flows had experienced some short-term increases from isolated rainfalls, this flow has not been sustained,” he said.
“Shoalhaven Water ceased all pumping from the Shoalhaven River at Burrier last week as a result of low river flows and we are now using our water storages,” he said.
“Water consumption was up very high last week but had dropped earlier this week.
“I would ask people to be mindful of their water use.”
Mr Holmes said there were many factors that influenced water usage in the Shoalhaven three of the main ones being the weather, visitor numbers and bushfires.
“People can be assured we have a drought management plan in place which has been tried and tested in the past.
“While there are no restrictions currently in place it is important that everyone remain sensible with their water usage given the ongoing dry weather,” he said.
Mr Holmes said water usage in the first week of January had increased 30 per cent on the same period last year while the second week of January had also experienced a 58 per cent increase.
Information about the river flows, combined storages, water consumption and rainfall can be found at Shoalhaven Water’s website www.shoalwater.nsw.gov.au.
Allan Walker from North Nowra and Bert Hawke from Nowra know a thing or two about growing vegetables without wasting water.
The pair put their backs into creating produce gardens for Slice of Life Australia.
They grow a large range of vegetables for the organisation’s cafes, including Reflections at the Shoalhaven Memorial Gardens and Lawn Cemetery.
“Last Tuesday’s heatwave really knocked our tomatoes around, they were sunburnt,” Mr Hawke said.
“The spinach is being burnt by heat and wind, in fact anything leafy is suffering,” he said.
While many gardeners might reach for the sprinkler as a way to combat the hot dry conditions Mr Walker said he and Mr Hawke were using a deep layer of organic matter and other simple techniques to avoid excessive water use.
“I’ve been a gardener all my life and I hate seeing water wasted. We only water here once a day, with a hand held hose, not sprinklers.
“We have lost some plants because of the heat and wind.
“I keep seeing showers on the weather report but I think I’d rather take more notice of my big toe.
“I think people with big gardens who don’t have a bore are going to be in trouble,” he said.
Meanwhile further a lack of rain across the state places mounting pressure on water storage in other areas.
Severe rainfall deficiencies have expanded across parts of NSW and in northern and western Victoria since August.
Central and north western NSW experienced below average rainfall in December.
Serious to severe deficiencies have expanded slightly along the western NSW-Victoria border following average to below average December rain in those areas.