WARNING: Reduce water use before it's too late
NORTHERN Rivers residents are being urged to turn off the taps, shorten showers and reduce toilet flushing in an effort to conserve water before it's too late.
As drought conditions continue to sweep across the region, Rous County Council wants residents to reconsider their water consumption and reduce the amount of water they use to ensure future water security.
Currently, Northern Rivers residents use on average 194 litres of water per person per day.
But Rous officers need each resident to reduce their water consumption to 160 litres per day in order to prevent future water restrictions.
This means reducing water usage by 30 litres per day per person.
Launching the 160 Litre Challenge, Rous councillor Sharon Cadwallader said residents needed to take responsibility for their water consumption.
"We're putting the word out there because by 2024 we'll probably look to water restrictions if we don't start to use our water more wisely," she said.
"It doesn't mean that we're going to run out of water by 2024, but our burgeoning population and statistics are stating that we have to take another measure to provide good quality water to our growing population."
Rous deputy chair Cr Vanessa Ekins said the 160 Litre Challenge was a good exercise to see how much water each household uses.
"You can do this with the challenge by marking the times over the next few months on your water meter," she said.
"It's estimated that with our population growth in 2040 we might have to start bringing in water restrictions to ease our consumptions, so the best thing we can do is to reduce demand on our reticulated supply or damn water now."
Residents are being encouraged to install rain water tanks, take shorter showers, re-use water for washing recyclables and stop unnecessary toilet flushing.
Meanwhile, council is also looking at alternative solutions to a potential future water crisis.
"We're looking at groundwater extraction in places where there's high populations growth like Woodburn and Ballina so we're not having to pump and pipe this water to those communities so they'll have their own resources there," Cr Ekins said.
"We've got an unfolding strategy. At the moment another dam is way down the bottom of the list and that's because they require over $200 million of investment and the evaporation rate of the dam is massive and it takes a lot of rain to top it up, where a rain water tank takes instantaneous top up.
"It's something we're looking at really carefully and we only want to do the groundwater extraction right next to where there is a population base so it feeds that population and we don't have to move that water around the countryside.
"The other thing is that we have to examine is what other ecological systems use that groundwater so there would be very strict licensing associated with how much we could take. There's not a lot of information about our groundwater so part of the investigation Rous Council is doing is actually informing our Office of Water about how much groundwater there is, what type of groundwater it is and where the groundwater actually goes."
Rous general manager Phillip Rudd said it was important residents did their part in preserving water.
"The 2024 deadline is when we're predicating our secure yield to meet our demand within the region," he said.
"Secure yield is quite complicated but it's factoring in population growth and climate change so the more we can do now to reduce the amount of water people use, it allows us to prolong expensive infrastructure augmentation to the network."
Meanwhile, 14 Northern Rivers primary schools helped plant native trees at Rocky Creek Dam as part of the 160 Litre Challenge initiative.
- For more information about the 160 Litre Challenge, visit www.rous.nsw.gov.au.