HUNTER Water is urging Lake Macquarie residents to use the equivalent of four fewer buckets of water a day as the region prepares for Level 1 water restrictions on Monday.
The restrictions come into play as the statewide drought continues to bite and water in the Hunter's dams drops to the lowest levels in more than 20 years.
The region's water supply - sourced from Grahamstown and Chichester dams, and Tomago and Anna Bay sandbeds - is today at 63.9 per cent of capacity.
Storage levels in the region last fell that low in November, 1994.
The Level 1 restrictions are aimed at reducing the use of water outdoors, and include the banning of sprinklers.
But Hunter Water wants residents to voluntarily use less water inside their homes, too.
Hunter Water's executive drought lead Darren Cleary said the amount of water used inside homes had a significant impact on the region's water storage levels.
"Saving four buckets of water is all it takes to make a difference," Mr Cleary said.
"While Level 1 water restrictions will focus on reducing outdoor water use, there are plenty of simple and easy things we can do every day that will save our precious resource."
Lake Macquarie residents might well be proud of their green credentials when it comes to things such as their take-up rates of solar panels, recycling and shunning of single-use plastics, but it seems they could do more when it comes to water conservation.
"On average, Hunter Water customers use approximately 190 litres of water per person each day, which is about 10 to 20 per cent more when compared to other areas like the Central Coast, Melbourne and south-east Queensland," Mr Cleary said.
"With the region's dam levels continuing to fall, it's more important than ever that we conserve water wherever we can. If we all used four buckets of water less a day, together, we could reduce demand and ensure our dams are in the best position heading into summer."
Households are being asked to focus on their showering habits.
"One of the easiest ways to save water is by reducing showers to four minutes," Mr Cleary said.
"We know that the shower is the largest discretionary water user in the home, making up more than a third of daily water usage. Every minute reduced in the shower is a bucket of water saved, so we recommend using a shower timer or showering for the length of your favourite song."
Locals are also being asked to fix dripping taps and leaking toilets.
"We estimate that dripping taps and running toilets contribute to more than 2 million litres of water being lost each year across the region, which is equivalent to the water supply of almost 144 households for a month," Mr Cleary said.
Among the key elements of Level 1 water restrictions.-
- sprinklers cannot be used at any time;
- hoses and taps cannot be left running unattended at any time;
- hoses cannot be used for cleaning of hard surfaces such as driveways;
- lawns and gardens can be watered only with hoses fitted with trigger nozzles and before 10am or after 4pm; and
- vehicles, boats and buildings can be washed if using a bucket, high-pressure cleaning equipment or a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.
On the Central Coast, water storage levels are this week at 54.7 per cent of capacity.
The Coast's largest water reservoir, Mangrove Creek Dam, is at 52.5 per cent of capacity.
Level 1 restrictions would kick in if water storage levels in Mangrove Creek Dam fell to 50 per cent of capacity.
But Cr Greg Best wants the council to be proactive and immediately implement water restrictions.
Central Coast Council has urged residents to use less than 150 litres of water per person, per day, and has launched on online tool to help them achieve that.
Coast residents are also urged to follow the 'Water Wise Rules' which include using trigger-nozzled hoses for watering gardens and lawns in the coolest times of the day, using buckets of water to wash cars, and avoiding the use of hoses on hard surfaces.
Meanwhile, a survey of community attitudes conducted by the University of NSW, in Sydney, found that most people in NSW expected the continuing drought would result in water not being available for anything other than essential use such as drinking.