BATHURST residents now have more freedom when it comes to using water.
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After being under Level 3 (high) restrictions for 19 months, Bathurst Regional Council has agreed to relax water restrictions.
Level 2A, a modified version of Level 2 waterwise restrictions, now apply.
With Chifley Dam remaining full since September 2020, and the last summer being wetter than average, council staff felt it was safe to scale back restrictions so long as the dam's water level remains above 75 per cent.
However, councillors were concerned about the recommended trigger point for Level 3. Instead, councillor Graeme Hanger moved a motion at Wednesday's council meeting to set the trigger point as a dam level of 80 per cent.
Councillors unanimously supported easing restrictions and changing the trigger point.
Cr Hanger said the extra five per cent was "a big deal" and called on director of Engineering Services Darren Sturgiss to explain how quickly the dam can drop.
"Potentially, without restrictions, we would generally lose about two per cent per week," Mr Sturgiss said.
"... The largest drawdown that we've had per week without restrictions in the middle of summer has been a little bit over four per cent per week. So, it can be varied, and those numbers are on the basis of not having any rain or any inflow into the dam.
"Essentially, making that five per cent change, it might only be the difference of three to four weeks, if that, before we go back to Level 3, should we need to."
Cr Hanger felt the community had grown accustomed to living with water restrictions, and said he thought residents would accept the trigger point being a dam level of 80 per cent.
"At the moment we're 100 per cent and hopefully stay 100 per cent for quite some time, but as the director said and we all know, we don't know what's around the corner," he said.
Cr Marg Hogan backed the trigger point proposal, saying it was a matter of community perception.
She also requested monthly reports on the dam's water level to keep councillors apprised of the situation.
"For me, it's a perception thing. The community has got used to water restrictions and 80 per cent, to me, just sounds like we've still got our eye on the ball," Cr Hogan said.
Level 2A restrictions are now in effect.
Residents can water lawns and gardens before 10am or after 4pm for a maximum of three hours daily.
The odds and evens system has been scrapped
Cars are allowed to be washed at home on the lawn using a bucket or trigger nozzle hose, with no restriction on what time of day this can be done.
When it comes to pools, people are able to top up or fill for the first time before 10am and after 4pm. The restriction on daily fill times has been lifted.
A pool cover must still be used in accordance with manufacturer's or supplier's instructions.
Washing of outdoor hard surfaces remains prohibited, other than for health and safety reasons, or prior to painting.
The full list of rules will be on council's website.
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