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Changing rainfall patterns and drought has meant Australians have become accustomed to living with water restrictions. Water restrictions are essential to ensure healthy and reliable water supplies now and into the future.
Water restriction levels—usually called stages—are generally set by state and territory governments. Your local metropolitan or regional water authority is responsible for applying water restrictions.
Restrictions will depend on how much rain has fallen in the water catchment near where you live, and on dam levels. Restrictions are usually seasonal, meaning you will probably be on a higher restriction stage in summer when there is little rain. Your state or territory may have permanent water saving measures in place throughout the year such as: set times to water your garden; not using tap water to wash driveways or paths; less efficient types of watering systems may be banned; and hand-held hoses may have to be fitted with trigger nozzles.
Check with your water authority, local council or relevant government department about what permanent or seasonal restrictions currently affect you.
Penalties apply if you don't follow the rules so it's important to be aware of the formal restrictions and to adopt water-wise habits as part of your daily activities. Exemptions may be in place for those with special needs. Restrictions don't apply if you're using rainwater from your own tank or bore water.
What you can use tap water for changes according to the current water restriction stage but there are some common restrictions.
You may have to limit when you water your garden and lawn. Often watering times will be restricted to specific times of the day, and to specific days of the week. This is worked out by what is called the odds and evens system where odd numbered houses on your street can water their gardens on the odd calendar days of the month, and even numbered houses can water on even numbered days.
By installing a rainwater tank you can replace tap water with rainwater to water your garden. This will also help reduce your water bills.
Washing your car on the street causes a lot of drinking water to go down the drain. If you do need to wash your car, light truck, boat, caravan or motor bike, if possible wash it on the lawn so that the grass gets a watering at the same time. Some water restriction stages mean you can wash your vehicle, but you must use a bucket and not a hose. If your area is on a higher restriction stage, you may not be allowed to wash your car at home. In this case, you can take your vehicle to a commercial car wash, where the water is recycled.
If your area is on water restrictions you may not be allowed to wash your external walls, windows, lights, decks, concrete paths and paved areas.
Swimming pools and spas use a lot of water. You may need to apply to fill a new pool and have a water conservation plan submitted with your local council or local water authority. If your pool or spa needs topping up, you might be allowed to do this with a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle. If you have high water restrictions in your area you may need to purchase external water to fill up your new pool or spa.
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