DROUGHT DRAGS ON: Residents are unlikely to face such punitive water restrictions again. Picture: Peter Wallis.
DROUGHT DRAGS ON: Residents are unlikely to face such punitive water restrictions again. Picture: Peter Wallis.

80 litre water restrictions ‘didn’t work’: SDRC Mayor

THE Southern Downs is suffering through its third consecutive year of the worst drought on record, but that doesn't mean water restrictions will tighten any time soon, according to Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi.

New council research has found the reticulated water system could not handle a return to daily 80 litres a person limit.

"There were other issues that started to creep into the system," Cr Pennisi said.

"Because there was water laying in the pipes it wasn't getting flushed out."

Over the course of the 80-litre restrictions, there were multiple complaints within the community of poor water quality, which ranged from discolouration and strange smells to claims of skin damage.

SDRC CEO Jane Stroud said, if she were to be "brutally honest", the restrictions didn't work for a range of reasons.

"The number one reason was that people couldn't, and didn't, reach it across the region," she said.

"The second was we bumped into issues with maintaining our systems.

"The actual pressure in the water mains and the operating capacity was negatively impacted by the 80 litres per person, per day, and actually caused water loss."

When the water became stagnant in the pipes, due to decreased use, it compromised water quality and needed to be "flushed" out, a process that caused the council to lose some of that water.

"Obviously we tried really hard to capture it all (during the process) so we didn't waste it," Ms Stroud said.

"But we learned 80 litres per person just doesn't work with our system, and it doesn't work with our community."

Water restrictions were eased from 80 litres per person, per day, to 120 litres per person, per day, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The additional water use was needed to ensure a high standard of hand hygiene and avoid the spread of COVID-19, according to council statements at the time.



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