IN an aim to reduce water consumption due to prolonged drought conditions, Upper Hunter Shire councillors voted at Monday night's meeting to introduce level 1 water restrictions.
While Murrurundi remains on level 6 restrictions, Aberdeen, Merriwa, Scone and Cassilis will go on level 1 restrictions from next week.
As of Monday, July 1, locals will only be able to water lawns and gardens between 6am and 9am and 6pm and 9pm during the summer Daylight Saving period; and 6am and 10am and 4pm and 10pm during the remainder of the year.
Level 1 restrictions mean cars may only be washed with a bucket and rinsed with a trigger hose on your lawn and no washing of walls and paved surfaces are permitted, with the expectation you use a broom instead.
Upper Hunter Shire Council's decision follows on from neighbouring Singleton and Muswellbrook councils, who have also recently resolved to implement level 1 restrictions as drought conditions take their toll.
Scone and Aberdeen's water supply comes from Glenbawn Dam, while Merriwa and Cassilis' water supplies come from ground water supply systems.
As of Monday June 24, Glenbawn Dam's water levels sat at 51.3 per cent according to Water NSW.
The Upper Hunter Shire is potentially entering its third summer in a row of higher than average water consumption levels in Aberdeen, Merriwa and Scone.
Water use in Scone and Aberdeen rose by 23 per cent in the 2017/18 year on the previous year, and in Merriwa use rose by 29 per cent.
However, Upper Hunter Shire Council said in a statement on Monday it has introduced water restrictions not because of an imminent threat to the water supply, "but to encourage responsible water use more generally, and to proactively respond to ongoing drought conditions".
So far in 2019, water use in Aberdeen, Merriwa and Scone has been more conservative than the previous year, however council said these towns are "still on track to reach high levels of water use, particularly if low rainfall levels continue".
All councillors present at Monday night's meeting voted to adopt the new restrictions, with some calling for tougher enforcement of restrictions.
Councillor James Burns suggested that an amendment be made to the motion to include the line that council "make representation to the appropriate bodies to place all users in the Hunter catchment on water restrictions".
Enforcement of the level 1 restrictions in the Upper Hunter Shire will start from September 1 2019 with residents and businesses encouraged to adopt more water-wise practices wherever possible.