Residents might have enjoyed the rare sound of rain falling on roofs these past couple of days but the showers will have little material impact on the severity of the drought.
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Level 1 water restrictions are now in place, meaning the washing of hard surfaces is out and watering of gardens and topping up of pools must be done with timers.
If dam levels continue to fall, the restrictions will be upgraded. The message is clear: we need to now start thinking about how we use water and how we can make it go that little bit further.
Of course, we are not the only region confronting depleted water supplies. Sydney Water’s dams are also well below capacity. That means water will soon begin to be pumped from Tallowa Dam, meaning less will flow into the Shoalhaven River.
In the mid-2000s, this became a cause of considerable local anxiety as the drought back then placed enormous pressure on the Shoalhaven River.
Residents became incensed to see the river they called their own being used to supply Sydney’s water supply.
Apart from an agreement struck between Shoalhaven City Council and Sydney Water to guarantee local water supplies, nothing much has changed.
Sydney Water owns Tallowa Dam and predicts pumping could resume as early as this week. It seems we have gone back to the future.
Unless there is is significant rain to top up supplies in the Sydney catchment – of which Tallowa Dam is a key component – we should steel ourselves for more pressure on our river.
We are yet to see if it turns nasty. The last time around, so much was pumped from the river flows, salinity became an issue quite a way upstream. Local tempers flared with the perceived plundering by the city of our key natural asset.
After years of plenty when it comes to water, we should turns our minds to ensuring we make the most of it. We all have a responsibility to ensure make every drop count.
It starts simply. Serenading teeth cleaning with the sound of running water? Unnecessary. Washing the car on the driveway? A thing of the past. Showering for 20 minutes? You are kidding, right? During the last big drought we all became adept at conserving water. We tipped our grey water on our gardens and they continued to flourish. It’s time to revisit those lessons.
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