Sydney to impose first water restrictions in a decade

SYDNEY • Australia's most populous state yesterday announced its first major water restrictions in a decade, putting limits on homes and businesses amid a record-breaking drought.

The New South Wales government said the greater Sydney region water catchment areas were experiencing some of the lowest flows since the 1940s, and that the curbs would take effect next week.

"Regional NSW has been experiencing a record drought," the south-eastern state's Minister for Water Melinda Pavey said in a statement. "Water restrictions in Sydney mean that households across NSW are doing their bit to conserve water." Dam levels in the state are now just over 50 per cent, down sharply from 96 per cent in April 2017, she said.

The state has received less than 70 per cent of its typical average rainfall since May 2017, according to meteorology bureau data.

Individuals in Sydney can be fined up to A$220 (S$210) and businesses up to A$550 for leaving a hose running or using a sprinkler system to water their gardens.

Australia sweated through its hottest-ever summer from last December to February. Its water management was a hot-button issue in the recent election following mass fish deaths in the Murray-Darling River system, which the authorities blamed on low water flow and oxygen levels. Scientists said the severe drought plaguing inland eastern Australia had contributed to the deaths.

Australia is no stranger to extreme weather patterns, with bush fires, floods and drought often occurring during the summer months.


Sydney last faced water restrictions in 2009, when all major areas imposed usage caps amid a severe drought, which had lasted for more than a decade in some parts of Australia.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2019, with the headline 'Sydney to impose first water restrictions in a decade'. Print Edition | Subscribe