Rocky Creek Dam in the Northern Rivers is an important source of water for the community.
Rocky Creek Dam in the Northern Rivers is an important source of water for the community. Marc Stapelberg

Rous to 'pull trigger' on early water restrictions

ROUS County Council has "pulled the trigger", calling an emergency meeting to bring in early water restrictions as the region's main supply levels continue to fall.

The push for early restrictions comes as Rocky Creek dam levels continue to drop by nearly 2 per cent each week - currently sitting on 78.5 per cent down from 81 percent last week and 83 per cent the week before that.

At the meeting next Wednesday, the water council and its constituent councils will make the final decision to implement level one water restrictions in areas where water is supplied from Rocky Creek Dam once it hits 70 per cent capacity, instead of the current 60 per cent threshold.

The extraordinary meeting will start at 1pm, and is open to the public.

"After the meeting, we will then wait until Rocky Creek Dam hits 70 per cent which expected to come as early December," Rous County Council chairperson Cr Keith Williams said

"We need to conserve what water we have, we need people to start acting now as if water restrictions were in place."

From Rocky Creek Dam, Rous County Council supplies water to urban areas of the Byron Shire (excluding Mullumbimby), parts of the Richmond Valley including Coraki, Evans Head, Broadwater, Riley's Hill and Woodburn as well as a number of urban areas in the Ballina and Lismore LGAs.

Mr Williams said while the Mt Nardi fire was burning fairly close to the dam, the "quickly dropping levels" was directly because of the dry.

"We think given the high level of demand now, and the forecast for next three months for continuing hotter and dryer conditions that we need to bring forward water restrictions and slow consumption down.

"We know historically that when we have a dry spell our water consumption goes up significantly - and that's been happening certainly this latter half of spring."

The level one water restriction will focus on outdoor watering, with things like sprinklers banned and alternate day watering options to kick in for residents.

"The aim is to reduce consumption at that stage to about 5 percent and get us back to what our normal consumption of water would be.

"We need to get it back down to at least a normal level of consumption or we will drain the dam quite rapidly.

He said there has been no impact to dam levels from fire fighters using water from the dam to fight fires, but the water council was seeing a significant increase in the level of water cartage, to provide watering points for the commercial water trucks in the region.

Historically, he said the last really big dry spell that saw water levels fall like this was in 2002/2003.

"We don't want to see a repeat of that - where we did have to get to pretty severe water restrictions," he said.