Water restrictions have been scrapped altogether and replaced with guidelines for homes and businesses in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Illawarra.
State Cabinet agreed on the changes on Monday, ahead of the first day of summer, after it was revealed combined dam levels reached 93.5 per cent.
Under the new approach, rather than households and businesses being fined for wasting water, new suggestions will be made on how to preserve the vital commodity.
Water property and housing minister Melinda Pavey praised Sydneysiders for saving water during one of the worst droughts on record.
She said residents saved about 77 gigalitres of water – the equivalent of 31,000 Olympic-size swimming pools – during the last phase of restrictions.
“Since March 2020 water use is down 7.5 per cent,” she said.
During the weekend heatwave, 3.7 gigalitres of water was consumed Friday and Saturday – the most across a two-day period this year.
“We’ve been through drought, bushfires and floods and we know things can change dramatically very quickly, ” Ms Pavey said.
“While water restrictions will be lifted from midnight tonight, we are encouraging people to continue to practice their good water behaviour habits along the guidelines of the Level 1 water restrictions.”
New guidelines follow “commonsense behaviours”, according to the Minister, and fines for disobeying the new guidelines will only be issued in cases of “excessive waste”.
Under the new Water Wise Guidelines, tap water can be used to water lawns and gardens before 10am and after 4pm, if using a handheld hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, standard watering systems or supervised sprinklers.
Exemption permits for households and businesses will no longer be required.
Residents and business will also be allowed to:
- Water new turf and gardens at any time for up to 28 days
- Water lawns and gardens with drip irrigation systems or ‘smart water systems’ at any time
- Top up pools and spas to replace water lost through evaporation
- Fill new or renovated pools and spas
- Wash vehicles with a handheld hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure cleaning equipment
- Clean buildings (including windows, walls and gutters) with a handheld hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure cleaning equipment
- Cool down people or animals
- Allow water to run off onto hard surfaces
- Leave taps and hoses running unattended
- Allow pools or spas to overflow when being filled
Level 1 water restrictions have been in place in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra since March and previously banned people from watering lawns outside the hours of 10am and 4pm.
It was also forbidden to hose down hard surfaces and sprinklers were not allowed.