THE stark reality of Bathurst's growing water crisis is finally starting to hit home.
The Bathurst region will go to extreme Level 4-5 water restrictions from Monday, October 14, focusing attention more sharply than ever on the dwindling supplies in Ben Chifley Dam.
From October 14, residents will no longer be able to water their lawns and even gardens will only be watered for half an hour, twice a week.
There will be no washing your car at home and no filling your pool, except with the express approval of council.
It won't be an easy transition for a population that has been told for decades that Bathurst does not have a water problem, but a growing population and a severe lack of rainfall has left us in a position few could have imagined.
Also hard to imagine is a situation where Bathurst Regional Council turns off the water supply to a local property for repeated and serious breaches of the water restrictions, but that's now to be made possible under a proposed change to council's enforcement policy.
The proposal will be out for public comment but will include penalties for breaches ranging from verbal warnings and warning letters right through to disconnection.
No one would anticipate council actually being forced to take such drastic action but even including the possibility among the sanctions paints a dire picture of just how bleak the future could become.
The silver lining, if there can be one, is that the current water shortage has prompted a round of creative thinking that might help future-proof the region's water supplies.
Raising the dam wall is back on the agenda and we're finally taking a serious look at building a pipeline from the dam to Bathurst.
We'll look at treating water from Winburndale Dam to make it suitable for household use and council has been urged to consider stormwater harvesting projects.
And all of us will make decisions on how we can reduce our water usage at home.
Of course, what we really need is significant rain across the region and none of these measures will make that happen.
But what all these measures have in common is a recognition that we all have a role to play in conserving water and that changed mindset will serve us well during future dry spells.
We'll get through this together.