'We couldn't leave it any longer': Casino's water crisis
WATER is precious these days but for Casino residents that sentiment rings true this week as Richmond Valley Council increases its water restrictions.
The decision yesterday to jump from level one to level three restrictions in Casino only resulted from the ongoing dry conditions, the town's higher than average consumption of water, and the drought conditions continuing to impact the flow of the Richmond River - Casino's main source of water.
"It all comes down to what happened last time, council's been monitoring the rainfall patterns, the flow in the river and the flow over the weir and the long-term forecast for rain," council's infrastructure service manager David Timms said.
"Water is still flowing over the weir just, but obviously we've seen a downward trend.
"Long-term rain isn't looking good so we thought we were better of going from level 1 to level 3."
Mr Timms said the decision to jump straight to level three comes down to people's perception of the situation facing Casino's water supply.
"Level 2 didn't make an appreciated difference in the amount of water was being consumed," he said.
"Last time we went from level one to level two, we were only on level 2 for two weeks then we jumped to level 3.
"But at level 3 there was a downward trend in the water consumption.
"There's a bit of psychology around when you introduce water conditions.
"On your lower levels people use more water, they suddenly realised I can only water on these periods of times so I better take advantage to it otherwise we'll jump to high measures.
"Even if they may not have necessarily used in the past
"When you start to get to a level that does constrain you, you realise that it's serious and you probably shouldn't be using water if you don't have to."
Mr Timms said council's been considering the level 3 conditions for "at least the last month".
"You've got to push the button sooner rather than later, we ramped up our discussion two weeks ago based on the combination of the flows water and rainfall," he said.
"We couldn't leave it any longer."
But he warned that if residents don't start taking their water consumption seriously, things could get worse.
"Under the criteria that council's got out of the drought and emergency plan there is a level four and a level five," Mr Timms said.
"We like to think that the community will do the right thing.
"But if the trigger point for level four is reached, you've got no point to press the button
"On level four and urban and residential ratepayer in Casino can't use the supply for garden use.
"That means for the average ratepayer that lives in town you can use (water) for your inside use but as soon as you walk outside you can't use water.
Mr Timms said the critical thing for residents during this time is to get the information they need to manage their own water consumption.
"It's a little bit different to last time, if they don't understand it contact council," he said.
"Obey it - that's what we want... we want to achieve the fall in the consumption."
To view the full list of restrictions, visit www.richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/services/water-and-sewer/water-restrictions.