Keeping an eye on river levels as dry weather continues

WITH only a small amount of rainfall and no decent rain forecast, MidCoast Water is keeping a close eye on river levels as we move towards spring.

MidCoast Water’s general manager Robert Loadsman has explained the water and sewer authority is carefully monitoring flows in the Manning River, which supplies water to the region between Crowdy Head and Tarbuck Bay via the Bootawa Water Treatment Plant.

Mr Loadsman said the authority pumps water from the Manning into the dam on a regular basis, however the pumping is reliant on good flows in the river. This is also true for other supplies managed by MidCoast Water.

The Gloucester water supply is reliant on flows in the Barrington River, Stroud on the Karuah River and Bulahdelah on the Crawford River.

“As part of our management of these supplies, we are constantly keeping an eye on the river levels and our ability to pump water from them to storage dams or reservoirs.

“While others may talk about how full their storages are, it is not as relevant to our area as our water storages are generally operating at capacity while there is enough flow in the river to pump into them.”

In comparison to city storages, which can hold enough water for some years, MidCoast Water’s storages are much smaller, only holding enough water for a few months.

It is when river level falls too low to allow pumping and storage dams can’t be kept at capacity MidCoast Water has to consider introducing water restrictions, Mr Loadsman explained.

“The way the system works, once the dam is full and we have reasonable flows in the river, there is no need to restrict the way in which the community uses water.”

As such restrictions can come on quickly and can end just as quickly – in February this year restrictions were in place for just four weeks.

When MidCoast Water lifted restrictions in February they did indicate that there was a chance restrictions may be back in place before the end of the year, and as we move into spring without any decent rainfall it is starting to look more likely that this will be the case.

“Once we can no longer pump from the river and the dam/storage starts to fall, we usually move into moderate restrictions.

"These restrictions limit the use of water outdoors to one hour every second day with a handheld hose.”

Mr Loadsman said severe restrictions are usually implemented when the dam is at less than 50 per cent of the easily accessible storage.

These restrictions ban all outdoor water use and urge the community to be careful with their indoor use.

A similar situation operates for the Barrington, Karuah and Crawford rivers.

“As each area relies on their own water source, sometimes we do have different towns on different water restriction levels,” Mr Loadsman explained.

The Tea Gardens/ Hawks Nest water supply is sourced from an underground aquifer and is not as dependent on seasonal climatic variations, however at times restrictions may be required.

Bootawa Dam supplies the region between Crowdy Head and Tarbuck Bay.

Bootawa Dam supplies the region between Crowdy Head and Tarbuck Bay.

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