Cobar's water use surges as town swelters

WATER in Cobar is being pumped out at a rate of more than 70 litres a second - and residents are using around an extra half mega litre daily compared to the same time a year ago, according to the latest consumption figures from Cobar Shire Council.

The massive increase in water use has prompted the council to intervene with tougher restrictions but it seems many residents have worked out how to flout the system, according to operations technical services manager Tim Wark.

Based on street numbers, the council's "odds and evens" usage system was redeployed in late December and should have seen residents alternate between days for watering.

Instead many are still soaking their lawns daily - opting to wait until midnight before switching on fixed sprinklers and irrigations systems.

And while some residents, whose gardens beam with vibrant colour, think they have got away with it, the council has warned flouting the system could result in costly fines - if not tighter water restrictions than were already in place.

"We can't keep using water at the rate we are," Mr Wark said.

Average consumption for the Cobar townships itself fluctuates between 4 and 6 mega litres a day.

The town has two storage facilities which carries a combined water capacity of 11 mega litres.

"At best we give ourselves one, sometimes two days worth of water in storage at any given time," Mr Wark said.

"Usage has shot up for the early part of January compared to a year ago."

In the first six days of the new year residents in Cobar used 470,000 kilolitres more each day than the same period in 2012.

Its a sharp rise and one which needs to be drawn down. Council plans to commence doorknocking homes identified as breaking the rules. Similarly, increased water usage has been a resounding problem in shires around the west.

Last week Gilgandra Shire works and technical services director Rolly Lawford warned temporary restrictions would be necessary if residents continued using water at a rate far above production capacity.

Water consumption peaked last Wednesday at 5.1 mega litres - outstripping the council's filtration plant capacity of 4.6 mega litres.

"We need to bring usage in line with production otherwise pressure will drop and the council will be forced to implement restrictions," Mr Lawford said.

Both councils have asked residents be honest about their water consumption. But that itself could prove a hefty ask with temperatures Cobar tipped to hit 43 degrees on Friday and 47 on Saturday. Gilgandra is expected to reach a high of 44 degrees on Saturday, prompting concerns of yet another all-time record for water use.

"Currently usage is about 1700 litres per person per day," Mr Lawford said.

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