Responsible water use

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Conserving water helps maintain our water storage volumes and can save you money on your water bill. There are many simple things you can do to reduce water use.

Over the years, we've all come together to reduce our use throughout dry periods, but we encourage water conservation all year round. We base decisions to introduce water restrictions on the amount of water we are using, the amount we have in our storage dams, the current river conditions and weather predictions. 

Conserving water indoors

Here are some tips to help reduce your use of water in the home.

In the bathroom:  

  • 40% of household water use comes from the bathroom. 
  • Check for leaks and install water saving devices on taps and shower. 
  • Reduce your shower time – installing a timer may help. 
  • Turn off the tap when brushing teeth. 
  • Catch shower water in a bucket and use it on your garden or in your washing machine (see below for safety advice on use of greywater). 

In the toilet: 

  • One quarter of bathroom water use comes from toilet flushing. 
  • Check for leaks. 
  • Install a dual flush toilet system. 

In the laundry: 

  • 15-20% of household water use comes from the laundry.
  • Check for leaks and install water saving devices on taps. 
  • Wait until you have a full load before using the washing machine. 
  • You can also capture and re-use water from your washing machine and re-use it elsewhere (see below for safety advice on use of greywater). 
  • Use water efficient appliances where possible. 

In the kitchen: 

  • 10% of household water use comes from the kitchen. 
  • Check for leaks and install water saving devices on taps. 
  • Wait until you have a full load before using the dishwasher. 
  • Capture water in a container while waiting for tap water to warm up. (Water with food particles isn’t suitable for re-use – see below for safety advice on use of greywater.) 
  • Use water efficient appliances.

Conserving water outdoors

Here are some tips to help reduce your use of water outdoors. 

Watering gardens:

  • Use hoses, sprinklers or watering systems during the cooler hours of the day as this helps water absorb more effectively. 
  • Fit hoses with water cut-off triggers or control nozzles. 
  • Use watering cans and buckets instead of a hose.

Cleaning vehicles and boats: 

  • Wash on grass so this saves you having to water your grass separately.  
  • Fit hoses with water cut-off triggers or control nozzles. 

Swimming pools and spas: 

  • Set yourself an alarm when topping up your pool or spa, so it doesn’t overflow and waste water. 

Cleaning driveways, paths and courtyards: 

  • Use brooms, vacuum cleaners or air blowers to remove loose material, rather than a hose. 
  • Use an approved water efficient nozzle (less than 9 litres per minute) or high pressure cleaner unit, fitted with a water cut-off trigger or control nozzle. 
  • For commercial/industrial buildings, and building and construction sites, use recycled water for dust suppression where available.

Rainwater tanks

Rainwater tanks are a great way to save on your water usage and bill. You can use rainwater from your tank in your toilet, washing machine and outside. You may not need a planning or building permit to put in a rainwater tank, but there are some regulations you need to comply with; if you have to do any earthworks or build a support structure, or a retaining wall to install your tank, you might need a permit.

The drain connections on your tank need to be fitted by a plumber. Make sure they give you a Plumbing Certificate when they are done. Tanks are not to be built over a septic system or pit cover, at the front of your home or within 500mm of the property boundaries.

Greywater

Greywater is the water from your shower, bath, basins and washing machine. It doesn’t include water from the kitchen or toilet. You can’t drink it but it's great to use on the garden. There are a few guidelines you’ll need to follow if you’re using greywater:

  • Use your greywater within 24 hours – if you keep it longer than this it can start growing nutrients and start to smell.
  • Greywater contains traces of dirt, food, grease, soap, and detergents so it's not for your vegie garden or other edible plants.
  • Keep your greywater in the garden or on the grass so it doesn't spill into the stormwater system. 

If you want to install a greywater diversion device or treatment system instead of using a bucket, you’ll need a plumber. 

Water restriction levels

Water restriction levels are determined based on an assessment of daily customer demand and the storage volume available in our dams.

Predicted weather forecasts and the flow and quality of the rivers are also taken in consideration when implementing water restrictions. 

Restriction level Trigger point (total combined dam storage levels)
Water Conservation Measures >70%
LEVEL 1 (Moderate) 70%
LEVEL 2 (High) 60%
LEVEL 3 (Very high) 45%
LEVEL 4 (Severe) 35%
Emergency 25%

 

Introducing water restrictions

Find out how to reduce your use when the restriction level changes.

Moderate

Moderate restrictions will be considered when the total combined storage in Port Macquarie and Cowarra dams falls to 70%.

What restrictions apply?

Watering gardens and lawns: 

  • use of water sprinklers or fixed hoses is banned

  • hand-held hose or drip irrigation can be used for a maximum of 1 hour before 9:00am or after 4:00pm on odd or even days matching house number 

  • hoses must be fitted with water cut-off trigger or control nozzle 

  • micro-sprays, with nozzles less than 3mm in diameter, or drip irrigation systems may be used for a maximum of 15 minutes before 9.00am or after 4.00pm matching house number  

  • watering-cans and buckets can be used at any time 

  • no domestic water use outside the home on the 31st day of the month. 

New turf: 

  • exemptions for establishing new turf are available.  An ‘Exemption from Water Restrictions to Water New Turf’ application is available online or from PMHC offices.  

Cleaning vehicles, boats and outboard motors: 

  • car and boat washing (on lawn area): with a bucket and one hand-held hose (for rinsing only) before 9:00am or after 4:00pm on odd or even days matching house number  

  • boat motor flushing can occur for 5 minutes on lawn area only on day of use. 

Topping up swimming pools: 

  • one hand-held hose can be used for a maximum of 1 hour before 9.00am or after 4.00pm on odd or even days matching house number 

  • hose must be fitted with a water cut-off trigger or control nozzle. 

Cleaning houses, driveways, paths and hardstand areas: 

  • washing driveways, paved areas, walls and roofs with a hose is banned 

  • no chemicals or cleaning products are to be used on driveways, paths or hardstand areas; brooms or air blowers should be used to remove loose material from driveways, paths and hardstand areas with material disposed of in green bin or used as mulch on garden 

  • watering-cans and buckets can be used at any time. 

Sporting fields: 

  •  irrigation systems can only be used between 1.00am to 2.00am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Public gardens: 

  • hand-held hoses can only be used between 7.00am and 8.00am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Plant nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens: 

  • sprinkler systems can only be used between 7.30am and 9.30am. 

Commercial, building and landscaping industries: 

  • no restrictions to commercial activities (other than nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens), however water saving initiatives are encouraged 

  • dust suppression permitted with recycled water only 

  • all water usage and associated activities must not cause pollution as defined under the Protection of the Environment Operations [POEO] Act 1997. 

Recycled water: 

  • no restrictions on recycled water use. 

High

High level restrictions will be considered when the total combined storage in Port Macquarie and Cowarra dams falls to 60%.

What restrictions apply?

Watering gardens and lawns: 

  • use of water sprinklers or fixed hoses are banned 

  • one hand-held hose can be used for a maximum of 30 minutes before 9.00am or after 4.00pm on odd or even days matching house number 

  • hoses must be fitted with water cut-off trigger or control nozzle 

  • micro-sprays, with nozzles less than 3mm in diameter, or drip irrigation may be used for a maximum of 15 minutes before 9.00am or after 4.00pm on odd or even days matching house number 

  • watering-cans and buckets can be used at any time 

  • no domestic water use outside the home on the 31st day of the month. 

New turf: 

  • exemptions for establishing new turf are available.  An ‘Exemption from Water Restrictions to Water New Turf’ application is available PMHC website or from PMHC offices.  

Cleaning vehicles, boats and outboard motors: 

  • car and boat washing (on lawn area): washing may occur with a bucket and one hand-held hose (for rinsing only) before 9:00am or after 4:00pm on odd or even days matching house number  

  • boat motor flushing: can occur for 5 minutes on lawn area only on day of use. 

Topping up swimming pools: 

  • one hand-held hose can be used for a maximum of 30 minutes before 9.00am or after 4.00pm on odd or even days matching house number 

  • hose must be fitted with a water cut-off trigger or control nozzle. 

Cleaning houses, driveways, paths and hardstand areas: 

  • washing driveways, paved areas, walls and roofs with hoses is banned.  

  • no chemicals or cleaning products are to be used on driveways, paths or hardstand areas; brooms or air blowers should be used to remove loose material from driveways, paths and hardstand areas with material to be disposed of in green bin or used as mulch on garden. 

  • buckets only can be used before 9.00am or after 4.00pm on odd or even days matching house number. 

Sporting fields: 

  • irrigation systems can only be used between 1.00am to 1.30am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Public gardens: 

  • hand-held hoses can be used between 7.00am and 7.30am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Dust suppression: 

  • permitted with recycled water only. 

Plant nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens: 

  • hand-held hoses only can be used between 7.30am and 9.30am. 

Commercial, building and landscaping industries: 

  • no restrictions to commercial activities (other than nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens), however water saving initiatives are encouraged. 

  • dust suppression permitted with recycled water only. 

  • all water usage and associated activities must not cause pollution as defined under the Protection of the Environment Operations [POEO] Act 1997. 

Recycled water: 

  • no restrictions on recycled water use. 

Very high

Very high level water restrictions will be considered when the total combined storage in Port Macquarie and Cowarra dams falls to 45%.

What restrictions apply?

All outside use of water sprinklers, fixed hoses, micro-sprays, and drip irrigations is banned.

  • One hand-held hose can be used for a maximum of 10 minutes before 9:00am or after 4.00pm on odd or even days matching house number 

  • Gardens can be watered by buckets or tank water only  

  • Cars and boats can be washed on grassed areas with a bucket or tank water only  

  • Sporting fields and public gardens can use recycled water only, as per note below; and

  • Plant nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens may only water under a PMHC license 

  • No domestic water use outside the home on the 31st day of the month. 

Recycled water: 

  • use of recycled water must be in line with Level 1 restrictions for potable water. 

Severe or emergency

Severe

Severe level water restrictions will be considered when the total combined storage in Port Macquarie and Cowarra dams falls to 35%.

What restrictions apply?

All external use of drinking water, including sprinklers, micro-sprays, fixed and hand-held hoses is banned.

  • Gardens can be watered with tank water, or recycled water as per note below;  

  • Sporting fields and public gardens may use recycled water only; and 

  • Plant nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens may only water under a PMHC license.  

Recycled water: 

  • use of recycled water must be in line with Level 2 restrictions for potable water. 

Emergency

Emergency level water restrictions will be considered when the total combined storage in Port Macquarie and Cowarra dams falls to 25%.

What restrictions apply?

All external use of drinking water, including sprinklers, micro-sprays, fixed and hand-held hoses is banned. Other uses allowed only as directed and approved by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council .

  • Gardens can be watered with tank water, or recycled water as per note below;  

  • Sporting fields, public gardens, plant nurseries, bowling greens and commercial market gardens may only water under a PMHC license.  

Recycled water: 

  • use of recycled water must be in line with Level 3 restrictions for potable water.