The unpredictable future of Gunnedah shire’s water resources was in the spotlight this week as council revised its Drought Management Plan (DMP).
The draft 2017 update, which is on a 28-day public exhibition, indicated an uncertain outlook for local water supplies.
Despite expectations the New England and North West Region is projected to continue to warm during the near future (2020–2039) and far future (2060–2079), rainfall for the Namoi River rainfall catchment is forecast to increase in the same period, according to hydrological climate change impacts data.
The DMP revision also indicates surface runoff is predicted to increase slightly in the near future, and increase significantly (around 25 per cent) in the far future. But groundwater recharge rates are predicted to fall in the near future, but then increase again in the far future.
“The table [of above data] reflects the level of uncertainty surrounding climate change,” the DMP report states.
“Currently, the biggest concern for local water utilities is the potential impact that climate change may have on rainfall patterns and volumes, and in turn how this will impact surface runoff and groundwater recharge rates.”
The plan also highlighted council’s recently introduced permanent water conservation measures which encourage “common sense water use”.
The permanent measures for residential gardens and lawns ban the use of sprinklers, sprays, microsprays and fixed hoses during the heat of the day, and require trigger nozzles must be used on all hoses to help conserve water and avoid waste.
No washdown of hard surfaces is permitted either unless using a high pressure cleaner or water efficient nozzle, and pool covers to be used on swimming pools and spas to reduce evaporation.
Gunnedah councillor Ann Luke asked during May’s ordinary meeting if council would consider replacing its references to “water restriction” with “water conservation”.
She thought the idea would help develop a better mindset in the community relating to water saving practices.