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Sydney Water Restrictions Eased

13 July 2009 10 Comments

I somehow missed this announcement when it came out a couple of weeks ago, but Sydney Water are happier with dam levels and have eased their water restrictions.

They’re calling the new rules the “Water Wise Rules” – because we’ve all learned from the drought and heavy restrictions, and are now much more water wise.

The new Water Wise Rules allow:

  • Hand-held hoses, sprinklers and watering systems on any day before 10am and after 4pm. Hand-held hoses must be fitted with a trigger nozzle when watering.
  • Children to play under the sprinkler on a hot day.
  • Washing vehicles using a trigger nozzle.
  • Fire hoses for fire-fighting only.
  • No hosing of hard surfaces except for health and safety purposes or emergency and construction activities.
  • Automatic exclusion for nurseries, market gardeners, landscapers, garden contractors, bowling greens, cricket wickets, golf tees and croquet, hockey, tennis and racing surfaces.

These are sensible rules. Hopefully the higher level of awareness everybody has for water issues will ensure we don’t run the dams down too quickly, and we don’t have to return to level 3 restrictions anytime soon.


  • Lynn Wood said:

    Agree the rules seem sensible at the moment. My concern is that as the restrictions relax people tend to forget that there remains a significant underlying problem with fresh water availability over the next few years. East coast residents and particularly Sydney city dwellers seem to have a view that if the rain falls here then we can use as much as we like. The day is not far away when a much more equitable management of water availability and use becomes a reality.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Lynn: It’s nice to have a reprieve, however long it ends up lasting. I agree that people will forget over time and usage will creep back up, but at least now there is a lot of rainwater collection infrastructure out there. We really have fundamental problems with the way we use water in this country, though!

  • Wilson Pon said:

    Darren, water conservation is very important and we should practice it, no matter we’re having enough water or in drought situation! After all, wasting is not a very good behavior, as we must remember that there are many unfortunately people in the other side of the world who are suffering from thirst everyday!

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Wilson: Spot on. Treating limited resources like they were limitless is what’s gotten us into this mess. If we’re mindful during times of plenty, then we’ll have reserves during the tough times.

    @Mountainwildlife: True, in some ways it undoes some of the awareness that has been instilled in people about water issues. Some people just never got it, like your neighbour. Perhaps if water cost us more we’d be more careful with it? Dunno.

  • mountainwildlife said:

    I have to say it does make me cringe when they ‘relax’ the rules- I think it sends the wrong message that all is fine now, and it isn’t. I have no doubt that the people reading and following your blog are responsible and thoughtful, however there are others who live in ignorance (such as my neighbour who hoses his ute every day) and will not voluntarily be ‘sensible’ with water usage. Weren’t we all getting used to the restrictions and finding new ways to cope?

  • George said:

    Last month they annouced here in San Diego that next winter will be an El NiƱo year for us so water restrictions might ease up. I’ve noticed people wasting more water! Drives me nuts! I’m still learning how better conserve resources and I have a brown lawn to prove it!

  • Darren (author) said:

    @George: Good on you for making an effort. It’s hard to do stuff like that when everyone else is just continuing on as normal. It feels like you’re just making things hard for yourself, doesn’t it? But that’s integrity for you – doing what you know to be right, despite what’s going on around you. They’ll eventually be knocking on your door for water-saving advice!

  • Aidan Webb said:

    water conservation should be done because we are already having some water shortage these days

  • Thirsty Pete said:

    For how long must we see residential user restrictions as the means of solving Sydneys water shortage issues. Restricting usage is only a short term solution. When you look at the facts you see that there is a much bigger problem. That problem is capture, storage and rising populations. The following graph http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Environment/images/SydneyWaterdemand.gif shows pretty clearly how demand for water in the long term was in line with population growth and in the last couple of decades has droped behind population growth reflecting a decline in use per capita. The problem is that water storage has been steady. We have two major forces at work in Sydney. Cyclical rainfall and increasing population. When the water falls we forget about the supply problems. When the rain stops falling we start looking to constrict usage. Under both conditions we allow the population to rise ever more. The only long term solution is to to ensure we have appropriate collection and storage in those times when rainfall is plentiful so that we can use it in the lean times and match that with population. Expecting per capita usage to ever contract at the rate population is growing is unrealistic. Constricting usage and insisiting people use hoses with triggers may enable us to delay the inevitable marginally, but it will not stop the inevitable water squeeze. It is policy failure which has enabled population to grow without allowing basic infrastructure to keep pace. We need to start getting our politicians to own up to their responsibility of providing for the collective future instead of living off the legacy of those in the past.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Thirsty Pete: You’re right, and the electricity grid infrastructure has been run down in much the same way. That said, there is still a lot of low-hanging fruit to be had in reducing water consumption. My family now lives on rainwater instead of town water, and that really does make you think about what you’re doing with water very differently.