Sydney residents and businesses will face fines if they breach impending water restrictions as NSW grapples with drought and dam levels continue to fall.
Water Minister Melinda Pavey on Tuesday announced level one restrictions would be imposed across greater Sydney for the first time in almost a decade, starting from Saturday.
The restrictions become compulsory when dam levels fall to 50 per cent but the state government has triggered them early. Dam levels in greater Sydney were sitting at 53.5 per cent on Tuesday.
"With the lack of rain, with the lowest inflows into Sydney's water storages since 1940, the government's come to the decision that it is best to come into water restrictions," Ms Pavey told reporters.
Under the restrictions, hoses must have a trigger nozzle or another attachment with an instant on-off mechanism and lawns and gardens are to be watered before 10am and after 4pm.
Rules will also apply to the hosing of hard surfaces, the washing of vehicles, boats and buildings, the use of sprinklers and watering systems and filling new or renovated pools.
However, there will be a three-month grace period before fines of $220 for individuals and $550 for businesses were imposed.
A range of exemptions will also be available to businesses in situations where water is critical to their operations, Sydney Water's Catherine Port said.
It's been almost 10 years since Sydney faced restrictions with the last lifted in mid-2009.
Tuesday's announcement comes after Sydney's desalination plant was switched on in January, returning to operation for the first time in seven years.
It supplied the first desalinated water to the Sydney Water system in March.
Ms Pavey said the plant was working at about 50 per cent capacity and would add about 15 per cent to the water supply when it reached full operation.
Level two water restrictions are triggered when dam levels fall to 40 per cent, according to the Metropolitan Water Plan.
Australian Associated Press