Water restrictions in place with no rain in sight

UPDATE 5.45pm: RICHMOND Valley Council will follow Kyogle Council's lead and apply  level one water restrictions, starting Wednesday.

Due to the low rainfall in the catchment areas and falling river levels residents who receive a town water supply will be subject to level one water restrictions from Wednesday, January 16.

Level one water restrictions are triggered when the flow in the Richmond River falls to 25ML/day or less, which requires Richmond Valley Council to consider appropriate mitigation measures.

With 99 percent of the State in drought and no significant predicted rainfall, the council is implementing level one restrictions early in an attempt to preserve our precious water resource.

Rous County Council supplies the Mid Richmond towns of Coraki, Woodburn, Evans Head, Broadwater and Riley's Hill, via Rocky Creek Dam.

Richmond Valley Council's Acting General Manager Angela Jones said drought conditions were affecting the area's main source of water, the Richmond River, and with very little rain forecast for the next fortnight, the council thought it prudent to introduce level one restrictions.

Ms Jones said even with WaterNSW increasing the release from Toonumbar Dam from 18ML/day to 28ML/day, the river flow was trending downwards.


There are no water usage restrictions on local businesses NCMC, Norco, Holcim and others who require water as part of their essential business activities. Nor are there any restrictions on stock watering.

Ms Jones said all residents were encouraged to think about their water use.

"These restrictions affect sprinklers and fixed hoses at this stage, but all residents and businesses can help to reduce the strain on our water supply by using water wisely in day-to-day activities and conserving water where possible," she said.

"We've all seen the images of how tough it is for people on the land at the moment, and adopting low-level water restrictions across our local government area is a way we can all be mindful of how precious this resource is," she said.

"At this stage there is no immediate threat to our water supply, but this measure is a great starting point to raise awareness of how we use water and will mean our community is more prepared should we need to bring in tougher restrictions.

"Further information will be communicated when the situation changes but in the meantime please continue to be water wise and conserve this precious resource."

Original story: LEVEL 1 Water restrictions are now in place for residents of Kyogle and Bonalbo until further notice.

Kyogle Council issued the restrictions yesterday due to the water supply dam at Bonalbo not receiving input from Peacock Creek and the continuing low flow in the Richmond River at Kyogle.

Water restrictions are not yet in place for Woodenbong.

Level 1 Restrictions

  • Micro-sprays and drippers/sub-surface can be used for a maximum of 15 minutes and hand held hoses can be used for one hour every second day, between the hours of 4pm and 9am
  • Households with an even street number can water on even numbered calendar days and households with an odd street number can water on odd numbered calendar days
  • Other irrigation and unattended hoses are banned.  

Kyogle Mayor Danielle Mulholland said it was unusual to issue the restrictions at this time of year.

"It's a proactive move," she said.

"We've had a very dry year and the feedback I've had from the community is that they are really starting to feel it now in terms of feed for the cattle.

"Water west of the range is starting to dry up too so I sincerely hope it rains soon.

"But the problem is when the patchy showers come through, they may water the neighbours property but not yours ... we need a really good soaking rain so the grass and water ways can recover and so people have got sufficient water in their water tanks."

She urged residents to be sensible and aware with their water usage and follow the restrictions.

"The water restrictions are not in place because we are trying to be difficult, they are in place so everybody will have access to a water supply until we do get that good rain and we can lift the restrictions," she said.

"There will be fines if people are found to be found to be excessively using water while the restrictions are in place."

No other councils on the Northern Rivers have water restrictions in place at this stage.

Rous County Council chairman Keith Williams said the region's main water source, Rocky Creek Dam, was currently at 89 per cent capacity, after being at 100 per cent around November last year.

Level 1 water restrictions will be introduced when the water level in Rocky Creek Dam falls below 60 per cent.

Rocky Creek Dam.
Rocky Creek Dam. Cathy Adams

Cr Williams, said it was still important for residents to save water.

"From a 90 per cent level in the dam, we're looking at at another six months with no rain before we hit 60 per cent," he said.

"But unless we change our day-to-day habits of water use, by 2024 it is estimated that our demand for water will exceed our supply in this region.

"Weather is becoming more variable with droughts potentially more common.

"We are actively researching now how we can supplement our water supply in the future... 2024 is not that far off.

"Within two to three years we need to make some decisions.

"We are investigating groundwater options first, before we look at building a dam. That's primarily a a cost issue, because building dams are expensive.

"But of course we need a lot of information before we decide anything, and we have 18 months left of those (groundwater) investigations before we look at the information and take it to the council."