Spir­ited nav­i­ga­tion of un­char­tered wa­ters

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

DE­SPITE a Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald on­line ar­ti­cle pub­lished less than an hour af­ter Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil’s meet­ing ended on Mon­day night, which de­scribed the de­ci­sion to re­vise Level 4 wa­ter re­stric­tions be­ing the re­sult of a “fierce back­lash”, the mood in coun­cil cham­bers dur­ing for­mal pro­ceed­ings was con­cil­ia­tory.

Lo­cal turf farmer and Dubbo Green Space Al­liance mem­ber Alex White made a pub­lic fo­rum ad­dress re­quest­ing adop­tion of the new Level 4 re­stric­tion plan, hav­ing al­ready been in dis­cus­sions with Coun­cil.

“Without this open­ness and be­ing able to talk I don’t think we’d be at the sit­u­a­tion we are to­day, where we’re re­view­ing the wa­ter re­stric­tions which looks pos­i­tive for us mov­ing for­ward,” Mr White told the meet­ing.

The Dubbo Green Space Al­liance rep­re­sents land­scap­ers, turf sup­pli­ers, gar­den­ers, mow­ing con­trac­tors, nurs­eries, ir­ri­ga­tion and any­one con­nected with hor­ti­cul­ture, and seeks pos­i­tive ideas on min­imis­ing the im­pact on wa­ter-re­liant small busi­nesses, liveli­hoods and job se­cu­rity.

The key changes to the Level 4 re­stric­tions, which were ap­proved on Mon­day night, in­clude a re­vised daily tar­get of 280 litres per per­son per day, and an al­lo­ca­tion of 30 min­utes for out­door wa­ter­ing – us­ing one out­let only at a time, on a Wed­nes­day and Sun­day, for lawns or gar­dens.

New lawn of up to 50m2 may be in­stalled and wa­ter­ing sys­tems or de­vices must have a fixed timer or be at­tended for the 30-minute pe­riod. Re­stric­tions have been re­moved on the use of evap­o­ra­tive cool­ers.

Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Michael Mc­mahon

said the re­vi­sions are more rel­e­vant and eas­ier to un­der­stand for res­i­dents and busi­ness op­er­a­tors.

“Coun­cil staff have spent a lot of time analysing the ex­ist­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that were a part of the cur­rent Drought Man­age­ment Plan. As the plan is cur­rently un­der re­view, it was nec­es­sary that we take a look at the ac­tiv­i­ties as a pri­or­ity,” Mr Mc­mahon said.

The Drought Man­age­ment Plan, which has been used to de­ter­mine which re­stric­tions to en­force, was first drafted by the for­mer Dubbo City and Welling­ton Coun­cils. The re­stric­tions have at­tracted pub­lic crit­i­cism since Septem­ber, in­clud­ing from for­mer mayor Mathew Dick­er­son.

In a me­dia state­ment af­ter at­tend­ing the Drought In­for­ma­tion Ses­sion in Dubbo last Wed­nes­day, Mr Dick­er­son said: “There is no doubt that Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil is jump­ing to wa­ter re­stric­tion lev­els that are sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­treme than re­quired – by their own doc­u­men­ta­tion – and it is hurt­ing Dubbo’s busi­nesses and do­ing long-term dam­age to our rep­u­ta­tion.”

In a fol­low-up state­ment af­ter Mon­day’s night’s de­ci­sion, Mr Dick­er­son said he ap­plauded the change in re­stric­tions as “a step in the right di­rec­tion”, but added that “it would be sim­pler to just drop Dubbo back to lower level wa­ter re­stric­tions”.

“Dubbo spent sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time in the BOD (Bathurst, Or­ange, Dubbo) al­liance and the Lower Mac­quarie Wa­ter Util­i­ties Al­liance to ar­rive at com­mon def­i­ni­tions of dif­fer­ent wa­ter re­stric­tion lev­els which has now been thrown out the win­dow!” he said.

Sev­eral coun­cil­lors took to their feet to play down crit­i­cism, agree­ing with Mr White’s call for fre­quent re­views.

“There’s been a lot of neg­a­tiv­ity to date and this neg­a­tiv­ity only serves to dam­age the rep­u­ta­tion of Dubbo as well as busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity,” Mr White said. “If they’ve got some­thing to say, come to the ta­ble with so­lu­tions. The only way to get through this is to band to­gether and work to­gether to find re­sults that help ev­ery­body.”

Breaches of the wa­ter re­stric­tions may re­sult in an on the spot fine of $220 per of­fence.

Alex White at coun­cil on Mon­day

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