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Water Restrictions Start Today For The First Time In 10 Years

Beginning Saturday, water restrictions will kick in across Sydney for the first time in a decade.

As water storage levels continue to plumment amid NSW's ongoing drought, the Berejiklian government has decided to bring in level one water restrictions ahead of schedule. They will come into force from  Saturday, June 1. 

Under the city's Metropolitan Water Plan, restrictions are set to come into effect when dam levels drop to less than 50 per cent.

Levels are currently at 53.6 per cent and dropping an average 0.4 per cent each week. This means restrictions would have been enforced in about two months had the government not decided to act early.

Level one restrictions include making compulsory the so-called 'Water Wise Rules', which have been voluntary to this point. These new rules to be enforced include:

  • Only being able to water lawns and gardens with a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle before 10am and after 4pm;
  • Banning water sprinklers and watering systems, except for drip-irrigation or 'smart' water systems.
  • Restricting the use of hoses on hard surfaces like paths and driveways to only that for safety, health and emergency situations
  • Washing cars or boats over a lawn when possible, and only using buckets or hoses with trigger nozzles

The restrictions will apply to Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra, and largely target outdoor water use. Failing to abide by these rules could incur a fine of up to $550.

"Basically with the lack of rain, with the lowest inflows into Sydney's water storage since 1940, the government's come to a decision that it is best to go into water restrcitions," Pavey said.

"This is a decision that will have an impact on Sydney but given the behaviour of Sydney residents over the past 17 or 18 years, I suspect most people are complying with the type of rules that will become official on June 1."

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You can only water gardens using a hose with a trigger nozzle. Image: Getty

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Following a grace period of three months, a penalty of $220 will apply for individuals found not abiding by the new rules, Sydney Water's Katherine Port said on Tuesday.

Businesses will face a fine of $550.

"Sydney Water does have a team of community water officers that will be out in the community giving advice on how to comply with water restrictions," Port said.

"But if required they can administer penalty notices as well."

Exclusions for level one restrictions include bore water use and where there is "no practical alternative", while businesses are able to apply for specific exclusions through Sydney Water.

The last time water restrictions were lifted in Sydney was 2009, as the city began to come back from the devastating Millennium Drought.

Despite the average resident already using 50 litres less per day now than before the Millennium Drought, Pavey said "there is always more we can do".

The restrictions come just a few months after Sydney's desalination planet in Kurnell was switched on when dam levels reached 60 per cent in January.

When up and running at full capacity, it will provide about 15 per cent of the city's drinking water.

You can find more information on Sydney's Water Wise Rules here.