BATHURST'S public parks and playing fields will be left to die along with the city's private lawns and gardens if the region goes to Level 4 water restrictions.
Bathurst Regional Council is set to hold a working party to discuss the option of introducing harsher water restrictions as the water level at Ben Chifley Dam continues to drop, following a recommendation from engineering services director Darren Sturgiss.
Level 4 restrictions would include a complete ban on residents watering their lawns while the watering of gardens would be restricted to just two days a week from a watering can or bucket.
But, speaking to councillors last week, Mr Sturgiss made it clear council-owned fields would not be spared the restrictions.
He was responding to a question from deputy mayor Bobby Bourke about whether council could take water from Winburndale Dam - currently used to water council playing fields - to supplement the city's dwindling water supplies.
"We do have a licence for use of Winburndale Dam for municipal water supply to the value of 1000 megalitres per annum, of which we are close to using that capacity," Mr Sturgiss said.
"The intention that I would have, in terms of should council be required to go to Level 4 restrictions ... is that it would also include our playing fields and sporting fields which would allow capacity under our existing licence to use that water from Winburndale Dam through to our water filtration plant to supply the town water supply.
That concession from Mr Sturgiss is the clearest indication yet of how seriously council staff are taking the threat of a falling dam level leading into winter.
Bathurst had one of its driest winters on record in 2018 and another dry winter would see the water level at Ben Chifley Dam fall to record lows.
The dam was sitting at about 60 per cent 12 months ago and is now just below 45 per cent.
And while Winburndale Dam is currently above 90 per cent capacity, Mr Sturgiss pointed out it had a much smaller capacity than Chifley Dam.
"[Winburndale] is 1700 megalitres as opposed to 30,600 so it's one-eighteenth the size of Chifley Dam," he said.
"Further to that, it is gravity-fed into Bathurst, it is not fed by a pump station which would normally be the case for a pumped water supply.
"It has a capacity into Bathurst of approximately three megalitres per day which is utilised for watering our playing fields, so it augments our water supply.
"Under Level 3 [restrictions] we have the entitlement to water our playing fields, to an extent - we have cut back considerably - however, when [or if] we do go to Level 4 at 29 per cent Chifley Dam level ... then the town water irrigation use out of Winburndale dam would no longer be used as much."
Mr Sturgiss said Bathurst was currently using 14-15 megalitres of treated water each day, down from a peak summer high of about 24-25 megalitres per day.
"We normally use about 35 megalitres a day in summer but this summer with our restrictions we have brought it back to a dramatic reduction in water use which has led to a significant saving so thank you to the public for that," he said.
A move to Level 4 water restrictions, rated "extreme" restrictions by council, would include:
- No watering of lawns.
- Restricting the watering of gardens to just twice a week (between 6pm and 9pm on Wednesday and Sunday) and only allowing watering from buckets or watering cans.
- A ban on cars being washed at home.
- A ban on filling or topping up pools, garden features and children's pools.
Residents would be limited to four-minute showers or one bath per person per day to a depth of 150mm, though council concedes it cannot actively enforce indoor water use restrictions.
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