Shocking Images Show How Sydney's Iconic Beach Suburbs Were Hit By Drought

Drought usually inspires imagery of dusty outback paddocks and cracked dams but a new photography series shows the big dry was a lot closer to home than Sydneysiders may have realised.

Aquabumps is a photography website that has captured early morning beach scenes for almost 20 years.

But photographer Eugene Tan took to the skies to focus his lens on the city’s water supply and drought for the Sydney Drought Series.

No contrast or saturation was added to the photos. Image: Aquabumps

“I am worried about water and running out of water. I have a young family and when you have kids, you really think about the future,” Tan told 10 daily.

“The photographs illustrate common areas you visit all the time but don’t realise how affected they were in the peak of the drought just last month.”

Sydney was placed under water restrictions after its water supply at Warragamba Dam dropped to almost 50 per cent.

Tan targeted popular Sydney spots including Bondi and Coogee to highlight the drought.

Popular Sydney spots turned brown. Image: Aquabumps

“The weirdest one was Bondi, where I film every day and even I didn’t realise how dry it was until seeing it from above full of brown dirt," Tan said.

“It’s quite a sad story really, I think when people see the photos they’re going to feel sad.

Hopefully they’re also going to think about water conservation and thinking of water value.

From the air, it's more obvious how dry Sydney became. Image: Aquabumps

The photographs were snapped just before the end of February rainfall, which saw the city’s dam levels fill by more than 40 per cent.

Much of Greater Sydney is now classed as non-drought with drought-affected areas mostly on the outskirts, according to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Combined Drought Indicator (CDI).

Even gardens and yards were affected. Image: Aquabumps

But Sydney-siders are encouraged to remain conscious of water use as dam levels plummet by 0.4 percent weekly.

“This was the quickest fall for Greater Sydney's dams on record and drought conditions may return,” Catherine Port, Executive Drought Lead at Sydney Water, said.

“In both the Millennium and 1940s drought there were rainfall events followed by returns to dry conditions.”

Port said water-saving measures like limiting showers to four minutes were shown to make a difference.

We saw savings of more than 10 per cent to date since the beginning of water restrictions. We ask that you keep up the positive water saving behaviour.

Despite rain and greenery now surrounding the city, the state remains in the grips of drought according to the latest DPI seasonal update.



Water Restrictions Set To Ease After 'Biggest Rain In 20 Years'

The NSW Cabinet has approved changes to soften water restrictions to level one in greater Sydney from March.

“Despite the rainfall weakening the drought event, it is not over and a ‘watch and monitor’ status remains in place,” the report read.

Several weeks of growth and follow-up rainfall are required to continue any recovery from drought.
Dam levels dropped to almost 50 percent. Image: Aquabumps

At the end of February, 98.5 percent of NSW is still in one of the three drought categories on the CDI.