Sydney will receive new water restrictions as of Saturday 1 June as dam levels continue to drop.
Drought restrictions are usually triggered when dam levels fall below 50 per cent, but the restrictions have been announced early as dam levels in Greater Sydney sit at 53.5 per cent following consecutive weeks where volumes dropped by 0.5 per cent.
This is the first time in nearly 10 years that Sydney has faced water restrictions, and it means formerly acceptable uses of water will now be banned, with hefty fines in store for those in breach.
Individuals will be in for fines of up to $220 and businesses can receive fines of up to $550 for breaking the new water restrictions, Sydney Water announced today.
However, there will be a three month grace period, with the first fines issued only after 1 September.
If you’re watering the garden, you can’t use standard sprinklers or watering systems at any time. Watering lawns and gardens is also only permitted before 10am and after 4pm.
If you’re cleaning a vehicle or a building, you can’t use a hose without a trigger nozzle. You also can’t use high pressure cleaning equipment.
Additionally, cleaning hard surfaces like paths, driveways and paved areas with a hose as part of a general cleaning routine is banned.
Leaving hoses unattended is also banned.
However, home owners are free to use a hose to rinse out bins, flush boat engines and perform essential maintenance on boat trailers.
"With the lack of rain, with the lowest inflows into Sydney's water storages since 1940, the government's come to the decision that it is best to come into water restrictions," Water Minister Melinda Pavey told reporters on Tuesday.
A recent study by Sydney Water found around two thirds of Sydneysiders were unaware the region was in drought, due to intermittent rain.
However, “We're seeing the lowest level of inflows into our dams that we've seen in decades," Sydney Water’s executive drought lead Catherine Port said.
"We all need to do our bit to save water, water is a valuable resource and it shouldn't be wasted.”
How else can I save water?
Saving water also means saving money.
Author of The Joyful Frugalista Serina Bird suggested Australians could shower less - especially in winter when it’s not as hot.
“If you have tenagers who need a reminder about how long they are spending in the shower, take this tip from a friend of mine.
“She installed a waterproof shower timer, with strict instructions that it was to be used for four-minute showers.”
Shorter showers are just the start: a different shower head can also help you save money and water.
“You can buy a simple water flow disc for around $5 which helps to reduce water usage without restricting the feel of your rain shower,” Bird added.
She said a water flow disc which restricted the flow to 9 litres a minute would see two people use 90 litres of water a day for 5 minute showers, compared to the 210 litres per minute used by unrestricted shower heads.
Sydney Water said 45 per cent of water in Sydney apartments goes towards showers, so cutting back makes a massive saving.
However leaky taps make up another 14 per cent, so fixing those is also critical.
Waiting until you have a full load to do washing and using the half flush whenever possible when using the toilet are also easy ways to save water.
The same goes for turning off the tap while you brush your teeth or clean dishes.
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