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Australia’s drought update: water restrictions step up in Sydney

  • Australia’s drought update: water restrictions step up in Sydney

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Australia’s relentless drought continues and reservoir storage levels steadily drop: Greater Sydney’s reservoirs have gone from 55% last May to 46% capacity currently. On December 10 water restrictions will increase to level 2 in Sydney and the surrounding Blue Mountains and Illawarra regions.

According to the Metropolitan Water Plan for Greater Sydney, level 2 restrictions would be triggered when the storage capacity falls to 40%, but they are being brought forward in order to delay the onset of level 3 restrictions if the drought persists, reports The Guardian. NSW’s Premier Gladys Berejiklian said ‘We’re experiencing one of the most severe droughts on record and we expect introducing level-two restrictions to save 78.5 gigalitres of water per year’. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has predicted another hot summer ahead with on-going dry conditions.

Level 2 restrictions apply to residential and commercial outdoor water use. As a step up from Level 1, under Level 2 people will be required to use a bucket or watering can to water their gardens between approved times, and cars can only be washed with a bucket or taken to a commercial car wash, among other measures. Fines of $220 for residents and $550 for businesses will apply to those who infringe the restrictions.

The Guardian informs that Opposition Labor party supports the restrictions but calls for expanding the capacity of the desalination plant in Sydney, fired up last January as dam storage levels fell below 60%, the Metropolitan Plan trigger for re-starting the plant. At full capacity, the plant can supply 250 megalitres of water a day, or 15% of Sydney’s daily water use. Opposition water spokesman Clayton Barr said Sydney’s citizens are making efforts to save water but it will not be enough: ‘The premier either has to commit to an expansion of the current facility today or investigate a new facility in the state’.

Premier Berejiklian said they were considering expanding the desalination plant. Meanwhile, NSW’s Minister for Water Melinda Pavey noted Sydney residents had decreased their water use from 200 litres per person per day before level 1 restrictions began last month of June, to some 183 litres in October.

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