Water usage drops across Lower Hunter but level two restrictions still loom says Hunter Water

CONSERVE WATER: Hunter Water's executive drought lead Darren Cleary with acting CEO Graham Wood at Grahamstown Dam. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
CONSERVE WATER: Hunter Water's executive drought lead Darren Cleary with acting CEO Graham Wood at Grahamstown Dam. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Lower Hunter community has been praised for its response to the level one water restrictions with Hunter Water seeing a 14 per cent drop in water usage across the catchment and, despite investigating more than 600 alleged restriction breaches, not having to issue any fines.

But one Morisset resident has been left asking "is there two sets of rules" for water restrictions after confronting a contractor when they were high pressure hosing a driveway and footpath at a Department of Housing unit block in the Lake Macquarie suburb in November.

"If I use the hose to wash my car in the driveway I would probably get a fine but a contractor using our water to clean the driveways and the footpath around the units can get away with it?" Lesley Austin, a resident of the units, said.

"We're on water restrictions and they're cleaning the driveways and footpaths? It's not right."

One of the current water restrictions is 'no hosing of hard surfaces such as concrete, paths and driveways'.

A spokesperson for the Land and Housing Corporation, which is responsible for the NSW Government's social housing, said the cleaning was necessary to remove moss from the surface.

"Our contractor, continues to adhere to the level one water restrictions," the spokesperson said. "In line with what is permitted under the current restrictions, for safety reasons, our contractor used a pressure cleaner to remove moss on a section of the pathway."

Hunter Water said the community has responded "incredibly well" since the start of water restrictions. While it had investigated 670 alleged water restriction breaches, no fines have been issued.

Fines for breaching water restrictions can be up to $220 for individuals or sole traders and $550 for businesses or corporations.

"The Lower Hunter community has responded incredibly well since the start of water restrictions by using about 14 per cent less water than what we expected, given the weather conditions," a Hunter Water spokesperson said.

"A team of community water officers from Hunter Water has been monitoring our region and educating the community on what level one water restrictions mean.

"The officers respond to all reports of alleged breaches to ensure compliance, with more than 670 reported to date.

"While their primary focus is on education and awareness, they have the ability to issue fines if people choose not to comply with the restrictions after a warning."

The level one water restriction guidelines include: all hand held hoses must have a trigger nozzle, outdoor watering is permitted before 10am and after 4pm, no hosing of hard surfaces such as concrete, paths and driveways, no sprinklers, and only wash vehicles with a bucket, trigger nozzle hose or pressure cleaner.

The level one restrictions focus on reducing outdoor water usage, which accounts for about 20 per cent of the Lower Hunter's total drinking water consumption.

Fines for breaching water restrictions can be up to $220 for individuals or sole traders and $550 for businesses or corporations.

Residents are encouraged to report suspected water restriction breaches through the Hunter Water website.

Hunter Water said if conditions continue to be very hot and dry over summer as predicted, level two water restrictions could be in place by the end of January.

Level two restrictions further reduce outdoor watering, vehicle cleaning and shower lengths.

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