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Council adopts new changes to Armidale's drought management plan

Armidale Regional Council (ARC) last week approved the early introduction of Level 1 water restrictions ensuring residents won’t be left high and dry in the forecasted long, hot summer ahead.

Councillors agreed at their general meeting on Wednesday 25 October that it would move residents to Level 1 water restrictions when total dam storage was at 90 per cent and move to Level 2 water restrictions when total dam storage was at 80 per cent.

Previously Council had implemented Level 1 restrictions when dam storage was at 80 per cent.

Mayor Sam Coupland said Council’s Drought Management Plan 2020 (DMP), which was adopted in February 2021, was a considerable improvement in Council’s response in times of (and preceding) drought and drew heavily on its learnings from the drought in 2019.

“The DMP provides for permanent conservation measures and implements water restrictions well before water levels at our dams reduce to the point that seriously impact our ability to supply water to our community,” said Mayor Coupland.

“The DMP was subject to widespread industry and community consultation and, as Mayor, I am reticent to develop ‘policy on the run’.

However, I have thought deeply about this matter, spoken to community members on the land and consulted with Council staff.

“The water levels at our dams remain healthy, as of Monday, September 23 total water storage is at 94.9 per cent.

Nevertheless, I would rather be accused of going too early on water restrictions than too late.

”Council also plans to investigate a subsidised rainwater tank program.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) recently predicted warmer and drier conditions would be likely over spring and summer for parts of eastern Australia, due to an El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that tended to draw rain away from Australia.

El Niño events also increased the risk of extreme temperature shifts, like heatwaves and hotter days.

Level 1 water restrictions involve households using no more than 180 litres per person per day and include restrictions including not watering gardens and washing cars with hoses during the heat of the day and using sprinklers for two hours only.

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