An increase in water usage in Coonabarabran and low rainfall has led to a significant drop in the water level at Timor Dam, which is currently sitting at 40 per cent total capacity.
Timor Dam was at full capacity earlier this year, but present- day levels haven’t been experienced since December 2002.
To combat the supply issues, Warrumbungle Shire Council has issued a notice to all residents in Coonabarabran that level three water restrictions would be in force effective Tuesday, 21 November, until further notice.
The restrictions have an impact on the use of water outdoors, including pools, gardens, vehicle washing, bowling greens and nurseries.
Acting general manager, Leeanne Ryan, said Council was concerned about the Timor Dam catchment supply.
“Level three is quite restrictive and that constraint will be felt, especially by the keen gardeners in Coonabarabran,” Mrs Ryan said.
“With the coming warmer weather, we want to work together with the community and the water users to ensure we don’t drop to dangerously low levels.”
While water restrictions have already been active in Coonabarabran since September, consumption has picked up in recent weeks as daytime temperatures increase.
Mrs Ryan said it would be a different level of concern if Timor Dam was at its current volume in the middle of the year, before spring rains.
“Dams can come up and down - that’s the nature of a dam,” she said.
“But at the moment we’re coming into summer, with dropping levels.
“We’d like to see the catchment area under some rainfall between now and March, as we traditionally don’t get a lot of rain during March/ April.
“We need to measure demand to match the supply - it’s a great balancing act.”
Residents are being encouraged to use water wisely in the coming weeks and months.
“I think residents in Coonabarabran are used to water restrictions, it’s not uncommon, and if residents are aware of the situation, they generally react positively and are conscious of their water use.
“Council does undertake patrols and if we notice that people aren’t complying and doing the right thing as per the restriction notice, then warnings are issued.
“We haven’t had to do it, but if it comes to it, we may have to restrict water supply for each resident that doesn’t comply.”
While Mrs Ryan wouldn’t speculate on whether level four, five or six restrictions could be a possibility this summer, she said Council was being proactive in addressing the supply issues.
“We’re activating the wells in town and they will be brought on line later this week.
“However, the wells only meet some of the demand, around 10-15 per cent of the demand.”
Across the shire, Council is closely monitoring water supply levels in each town, with level one water restrictions introduced in Binnaway on Tuesday.
Warrumbungle Shire Council director corporate and community services, Michael Jones, and director technical services, Kevin Tighe, assessed the low water level at Timor Dam on Tuesday, 21 November.