Sydney may soon face even tighter water restrictions
Level two water restrictions start today as parts of New South Wales continue to struggle through severe fire and drought devastation. Water levels at Warragamba Dam (pictured) have been significantly depleted. (Wolter Peeters / The Sydney Morning Herald)
A government 2017 water plan for Level 3 outlined outdoor water use would be either limited or restricted completely.
Sydney's total water storage has been depleted to 44.8 per cent, down almost two per cent since a November 17 reading.
It was projected Level 3 restrictions could be triggered in July next year, but continued drought and bushfires may force a revision of forecasts.
"Usually, we would expect to have level two water restrictions come into effect when dam levels reached 40 per cent," Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement.
"Given the rapid rate of decline of our dam levels we have decided to enact the next level restrictions sooner than planned," said Ms Berejiklian.
WaterNSW is understood to have already warned the state government to begin planning for dam levels to drop below 30 per cent capacity.
In May, 9News reported NSW dams levels dropped from a combined capacity of 96 per cent to just under 55 per cent over the past two years.
WaterNSW manages 21 storage dams, including 11 major dams that can hold more than 2.6 million megalitres of water.
Current supply levels would see Sydney likely run out of water in about 18 months, assuming no rain. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a drier than usual summer for NSW.
Sydney's desalination plant was switched on in January when dam levels hit 60 per cent and has been pumping clean water to Sydney Water since March.
Three years ago government was considering proposals to increase the height of the Warragamba dam wall, the important catchment in NSW, to stop it overflowing.
Nine.com.au has contacted the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for comment.
What do Level 2 water restrictions mean?
gardens can only be watered before 10am or after 4pm with a watering can or bucket
smart and drip irrigation systems may only be used for 15 minutes before 10am or after 4pm
the use of unattended hoses is no longer permitted
hosing of hard surfaces is not permitted, unless in an emergency
cars can only be washed with a bucket or at a commercial car wash
a permit is required before filling a pool of any size.
Fines of $220 will apply for residents and $550 for businesses who don't follow the restrictions. Businesses who use outdoor water must apply for an exemption.