A revelation at Budget Estimates that water flows into the Sydney drinking water catchment are at a record low have bolstered the call by the Greens for the early introduction of Stage 1 water restrictions and greater action on water efficiency.
The lowest inflow into the Sydney catchment was 136GL in 1944 and the second lowest was during the Millennium Drought with 234GL in 2004.
During a budget estimates hearing on Friday, WaterNSW CEO David Harris gave evidence that if inflows continued on the current trajectory, this year’s total inflows would be only 83GL.
NSW Greens Urban Water spokesperson Justin Field said the NSW Government has failed the community when it comes to local water security. They haven’t learned the lesson of the Millennium drought and have left Sydney residents exposed to potentially crippling water restrictions in the future.
“We’ve had water security issues in Sydney in the past but this is unprecedented and the NSW Government has failed to address the seriousness of water shortages in the catchment,” he said.
“The Government has taken water security for granted due to a false sense of security provided by the desalination plant and an underestimation of the perfect storm of drought and climate change.
“The use of water per person in NSW has risen under this Liberal/National Government since 2011. The Government has squandered the past seven years and failed to invest in efficiency programs to improve water security.
“The community rallied during the Millennium Drought and through strong personal and community-based water saving action were able to weather the past drought.
“It makes sense to bring in Stage 1 water restrictions now, ahead of the normal 50% dam level trigger, to reduce the likelihood of more extreme restrictions down the track. But ultimately we can only address long-term water security issues by getting serious about water efficiency and investing in greater recycling and reuse.
“Water is an essential of life and should be a greater priority for this State Government, both during this drought and beyond,” Mr Field said.