WATER wasters face hefty fines if caught flouting the rules when Tamworth moves to tough new restrictions in the coming weeks.
A lack of rain has Tamworth Regional Council on the verge of implementing Level 3 water restrictions for the first time in seven years.
Chaffey Dam started the week at just 36.1 per cent of capacity and Level 3 restrictions will be triggered once that figure reaches 35 per cent.
Under the measures, residents will be banned from using all outdoor hoses and sprinklers and instead must rely on buckets to water gardens and wash cars.
Level 3 restrictions also mean no town water can be made available for the watering of commercial or other sporting facilities, such as golf courses and football fields.
Residents caught breaching the restrictions for a third time will be fined $220 and a fourth offence will see flow restrictors placed on the property’s connection at a cost of $300.
Deputy mayor Russell Webb said it was imperative the community adhere to the restrictions now in order to insulate the region from even harsher measures later. “We need to limit the use of our water when we’re at this critical stage. Unless we get significant rain moving into spring and summer, we’ll be in an even more critical position,” he said.
“It’s not something that we want to do, or get any joy out of doing. But it’s something we have to do to maintain some level of water security in our community.”
The more extreme water restrictions prescribed under Level 4, which kick in when storage falls to 30 per cent, include a ban on the watering of all public parks, gardens and council-owned sporting facilities, although bore water can be utilised.
Cr Webb said the council will soon be launching a comprehensive media campaign to educate residents on their responsibilities under Level 3 restrictions.
“It’s very important that we use the water resources we have efficiently at this stage and if people aren’t taking any notice ... we will take punitive action,” he said.
“We’re not going to jump all over them on the first occasion (when a breach is identified),
but they’ll be warned about the ramifications of continued non-compliance.”