Parts of Australia can face the most severe water restrictions they have ever seen while the paralyzing drought of the nation shows no signs of relief.
Hose bans, personal water limits, and fines of up to $ 50,000 for violations are among the measures considered in the absence of major rainfall.
Sydney saw the introduction of level one restrictions in June, with $ 220 fines for using a hose between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – and Sydney Water is already encouraging residents to bob neighbors by reporting any breaches.
Experts warn that level two is not far away and that level three would bring the strictest restrictions since the millennium drought.
Sydney has seen a return of restrictions, with $ 220 fines for anyone using a snake during the day – and Sydney Water is already encouraging residents to bob neighbors and report potential violations
In the mid-2000s the dams dried up, the lawns turned brown and desperate farmers begged for rain on their knees as the earth burst under their feet.
While apocalyptic conditions worsened, some feared it would never rain again.
The drought was so terrible that level three water restrictions were imposed in Sydney in 2005.
Hoses were banned except two days a week, irrigation systems and new swimming pools were banned and motorists could only wash their cars with buckets.
Water fines jumped from $ 550 to $ 2,200, with a fine of up to $ 50,000 if a case went to court.
Such measures may seem far away, but they can be imposed on Sydneysiders in just two years, according to UNSW Engineering Professor Stuart Khan.
& # 39; You can never accurately predict Sydney's water levels, as we might have sudden unexpected rains – but in the current trajectory we may need level two restrictions by mid 2020 and level three by 2021 & # 39 ;, he said against Daily Mail Australia.
& # 39; Limitations of level three would imply a very limited outdoor use of water. & # 39;
If the drought continues, the city will enter the unknown.
The Sydney desalination plant, in an industrial area in the south of the city, opened in 2010 and is one of the largest in the world
& # 39; We have no definition of level four restrictions or clear proposals for what to do & # 39 ;, Professor Khan explained.
& # 39; The situation requires politicians to come up with new policies, such as building another desalination plant. & # 39;
Sydney currently has a desalination plant that provides 15 percent of the city's water supply.
What are level three restrictions?
The NSW government did not specify exactly what level three restrictions would mean.
But the water plan says: & # 39; Emergency restrictions include very limited or no use of outside water.
& # 39; This cannot be washing of exterior surfaces or cars, only use gray water for garden watering and lower water use goals per person to save water in and around the house. & # 39;
There were three limitations in 2005:
No rinsing of lawns and gardens except spraying out of control before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm on Wednesday and Sunday
No hoses for washing vehicles or hard surfaces. There are exceptions for swimming pools and containers that can be filled with a hose.
No sprinklers or other water systems at any time.
No filling of new or renovated swimming pools of more than 10,000 liters, except with a permit from Sydney Water
Fines of up to $ 50,000 for stealing water
The factory is equipped to increase production to deliver 30 percent of the supply – and the 2017 metropolitan water plan advises politicians to order this expansion if the water level drops to 35 percent.
According to the plan, there should be level 1 restrictions when the Sydney water supply reaches 50 percent – although this government brought them in early with the levels at 53 percent.
Restrictions on level two – which can limit the number of days that residents can water gardens and see the restrictions on personal water use imposed – should be 40 percent.
When the supply drops to 30 percent, there are level three restrictions due to kick-in, including no washing of outside surfaces or cars and only using gray water for garden watering.
Professor Khan said that water restrictions are effective in preventing disasters.
& # 39; We have good evidence that they work, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; In 2006, Sydneysiders really found out about the limitations and reduced water consumption by 20 percent, saving more water than the desalination plant supplied. & # 39;
However, he warned that this time they might not be as effective.
& # 39; After the Millennium drought, people have installed more water-efficient appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
& # 39; This means that our water use is generally less, which means that limitations may have less impact. & # 39;
He also noted that it is up to politicians to actually stick to the plan and introduce further restrictions when time demands.
A dust storm over a sheep pasture in Rankin Springs, 50 km northeast of Griffith in NSW on October 23, 2002, during the Millennium drought
We have already seen the NSW government go off-piste this week by suspending rules on how much water it can pump from the Shoalhaven River to Sydney.
The transfers, which are energy intensive and have a large carbon footprint, are only supposed to happen when the water level reaches 30 percent.
& # 39; It seems that the NSW government is turning to other options to save Sydenysiders from the pain of severe water constraints in the future & he said.
& # 39; I want to warn against this and encourage them to stick to the plan prepared by experts. Water restrictions work and are good for the environment.
& # 39; Making good while they go is not a good idea. & # 39;
Meanwhile, the situation is much worse in other regions of the country that have already introduced critical water restrictions.
In parts of South Queensland, residents are limited to just 100 liters of water per day.
The city of Warwick, 130 kilometers southwest of Brisbane, has not had a drop of rain for 72 days.
Aerial photo of unpaved roads along a lake in Warwick where it hasn't rained for more than 70 days
The drought has prompted the South Downs Regional Council to ban all use of outside water with a few exceptions, which prompted religious leaders to hold & # 39; pray for rain & # 39; services.
The situation is also critical in the town of Stanthorpe, south of Warwick.
Residents shower in the local gym so they don't use too much water at home and break the restrictions.
People shower as little as once every three days, the locals say, causing hygiene issues, especially at the local school.
Although the southern downs suffer the most, there are some restrictions in all states except Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
Western Australia, the ACT, Victoria and SA have permanent limitations.
Meanwhile, the Hunter region of NSW is confronted with water restrictions for the first time in 25 years.
Level One restrictions will take effect on the Lower Hunter on September 16.
& # 39; This drought is more severe than NSW has ever experienced & # 39 ;, said NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey in a statement last week.
A warning sign reminds residents and visitors of the state of the water supply in Goulburn, Friday 26 May 2006. The interior of the NSW was in phase 5 water restrictions
In terms of the largest cities in Australia, Melbourne and Brisbane have larger water resources than Sydney, so it will take longer for restrictions to take effect.
Canberra has a low supply, but the population is small, so it is not that much risk.
Perth and Adelaide are highly dependent on desalination, so although restrictions can be avoided, water prices are likely to rise because the process is expensive.
& # 39; I expect water prices to rise significantly across the country and that will be fine for most people, but it will have a really negative impact on lower income groups & # 39 ;, ANU Professor Pittock told Daily Mail Australia .
The drought of Australia: water restrictions throughout the country
NSW: Water restrictions Level 1, sprinkler and housing restrictions in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra
ACT: Permanent water-saving measures
Victoria: permanent rules for saving water, some limitations for water systems
Western Australia: permanent water efficiency measures and sprinkler restrictions
South Australia: water sensible measures
Queensland: critical measures in the South Downs Regional Council, some housing restrictions elsewhere
Tasmania: No restrictions
Northern Territory: No restrictions
& # 39; Desalination infrastructure prevents water restrictions from being needed as quickly as in the past, but it is more expensive to get water that way because it requires a lot of electricity.
& # 39; Providers will ask regulators to raise their rates and price increases are almost inevitable as their energy costs rise. & # 39;
Professor Pittock said that this drought is the worst that Australia has ever seen.
& # 39; There is a risk that it will surpass previous records, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; This drought is exacerbated by climate change because as the world warms up, winter storms move south and South Australia lacks vital rain.
& # 39; This can have serious consequences in the coming decades unless we take action. & # 39;
It comes when Australia braces itself for a horror summer this year after experts warned of a perfect storm of conditions that caused a wave of forest fires and mass deaths from fish.
The latest seasonal outlook for bushfire predicts above-average fire potential throughout Australia – including the entire New South Wales coastline.
The ominous warning from the Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Center is in the midst of the driest national start since 1970.
In the southern half of the country, the report shows, the period from January to July has been the driest ever.
The Bureau of Meteorology has since said that the current winter period will fall as one of the ten hottest records ever.
The BoM published a weather forecast for September to November – predicting that almost all of Australia would exceed average spring temperatures.
The period of the bush fire hazard in New South Wales has been extended this year to 1 August, well before the traditional start date in October.
Australia braces itself for a horror summer this year after experts have warned of a perfect storm of conditions causing a wave of forest fires and massive fish deaths (pictured fires in the Hunter region of New South Wales in August 2018)
It comes when the BoM announces their weather forecasts for September to November – predicting that almost all of Australia would exceed average spring temperatures
NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall predicted & nothing less than a potential fish Armageddon & # 39; in the rivers of the state.
Low rainfall, low river flows and high temperatures caused hundreds of thousands of fish in the Murray-Darling basin last summer, and Mr. Marshall predicted more of the same in 2019.
& # 39; I'm not going to chop words – the situation we're dealing with this summer is nothing less than a potential fish Armageddon, & # 39; he said.
Meanwhile, NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall predicted on Wednesday & # 39; nothing less than a potential fish Armageddon & # 39; in state rivers (depicted dead fish floating in the Darling River in Menindee in January)
& # 39; We are in the midst of the worst drought ever, with record low rainfall, record low inflow into our river systems and high temperatures predicted in the coming months. & # 39;
The agriculture department has now announced a $ 10 million package to pump oxygen into the rivers of New South Wales – and move fish in a special hatchery in the summer months.
& # 39; We are facing a perfect storm, which could result in large-scale fish death events this summer, even more important than we saw in Menindee earlier this year. & # 39;
The latest seasonal outlook for bushfire predicts above-average fire potential throughout Australia – including the entire New South Wales coastline
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