The Greens are calling for the introduction of level 1 water restrictions to slow the fall of Sydney’s dam levels which are expected to hit 60% by this weekend, the trigger point for switching on the Sydney Desalination Plant.
The call follows the continued fall in dam levels and forecasts for Sydney’s hottest ever Summer. Minister for Utilities, Don Harwin, admitted in August last year in NSW Parliament that “it would take some time to ramp up the desalination plant to full production”, noting that “the Premier mentioned "eight months".
Justin Field, Greens Water Spokesperson said, “It’s time for water restrictions. The Government’s voluntary Water Wise Rules are weak and without enforcement and better communication to the public, they are ineffective at improving water efficiency. With the desal plant still eight months away from being fully operational, it makes sense for water restrictions to start now.
“We can’t afford to put all our eggs in the desalination basket. Water restrictions are the cheapest and most effective way to improve efficiency and improve water security for Greater Sydney.
“Under the Liberal/National Government we have seen leakage rates explode, with the equivalent of 52 olympic pools being lost every day to leakage across the Sydney Water network. Response times for high priority leakes have doubled and water recycling initiatives have been undermined - the Government is just not taking water efficiency seriously.
“The Government needs to get real about water. Across the state we are seeing more and more examples of the severe effects of drought and climate change, yet this Government continues to turn a blind eye to the issue of a changing climate and the pressures that puts on water supply.
“Introducing water restrictions while investing in water efficiency and recycling, storm-water management and reducing leaks will save money in the long term and improve water security.
"The Government should be investing the $690 million they have earmarked for the damaging and unnecessary Warragamba Dam wall raising proposal into improving water efficiency,” Mr Field said.