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Water restrictions

The following water restrictions are in place in the Central Highlands local government area as at 27 February 2020.

Restrictions do not apply to alternative water sources used for external use, such as rainwater, grey water or private bores.

Restrictions also do not apply to properties with their own water allocations or water licences.

Complete details on water restriction guidelines, including washing vehicles, cleaning and commercial restrictions.

Visit our how to save water page for tips on water conservation around the house, the garden and at work.

Frequently asked questions

  • When can I water the garden?
  • Can I still wash my car or windows, fill a pool/ pond or have a fountain?
  • Why do we need water restrictions?

    We are imposing water restrictions so that we can stretch our security of water supply out as far as we can considering the worst-case scenario.

  • How is the level of water restriction determined?

    The level of Fairbairn Dam near Emerald is used as an indicator for water restrictions because it is connected to the Nogoa Mackenzie water scheme that Emerald, Blackwater, Bluff and Tieri rely on for their water supply.

    Rolleston gets its water from the Comet River. It’s water restrictions are determined by the capacity of the Ring Tank.

    Capella is supplied with water from three sources – a system of bores, surface water runoff, water that is harvested from Capella Creek during times of flood flows and from a drought relief pipeline that was constructed from Tieri.

    Its restrictions are determined by the capacity of the water storage facilities.

    More detailed information about where the water comes from for towns in the Central Highlands can be found on page 2 of the procedure.

  • What is the current level of the Fairbairn Dam?

    You can check the current level of the dam by visiting the Sunwater website.

  • How does council get its water?

    Every year on 1 July, the council is allocated an amount of water to use to supply the community from the Fairbairn Dam by SunWater.

  • If I pay rates, don't I have the right to use water?

    Owners of property connected to the water supply pay an annual charge and a consumption charge.

    The annual charge is the cost for council to provide water to the property whether or not any water is actually used.

    The consumption charge is calculated from the amount of water actually used at the property.

  • How important is the community water supply?

    Supplying water for people to use is what is referred to as ‘high priority’.

    Other high priority water users are industry that is vital to the economy of the state and region—employs a lot of people and earns money for the state—such as coal mines.

  • Where do I find out what the water restrictions mean for me?

    To see what restriction is in place for your town and what those restrictions mean refer to the chart on this page.

  • Am I an odd or even numbered property?

    Whether you are an ‘even’ or ‘odd’ numbered property influences your watering days.

    Property addresses are categorised as ‘even’ if:

    • The number of the property within the street is an even number. If you live in a unit, it is the number of your unit block that counts, not the number of your unit. E.g. 4 Simon Street or Unit 3/14 Simon Street.
    • There is no allocated street number and the property’s lot number is an even number. E.g Lot 4 Simon Road.
    • The property address includes more than one street number and the first number is even. E.g. 4 – 7 Simon Road.

    The same guidelines apply to categorising ‘odd-numbered’ properties (swap the word ‘even’ for the word ‘odd’).

  • What is council doing to conserve water?

    The council has reduced its use of water on parks, gardens and playing fields considerably.

    A water use monitoring system has been implemented requiring monthly water-use reports to be submitted to council for each facility being watered.


  • What about the Emerald Botanic Gardens?

    The Emerald Botanic Gardens is a public park of regional significance.

    It is enjoyed by hundreds of people every day and is a wonderful oasis for residents and tourists.

    As such, the botanic gardens, which is watered with raw water from the Nogoa River, will have watering reduced in some parts, but will be maintained in the best condition possible given the circumstances.

  • What's more important, a coal mine or a town?

    They are both equally important. Coal mines employ many people who live in the nearby towns.

    Without the town water there would be no people to work in the mines and without the mines there would be many less people to live in the town.

    This is why council and industries that share the water work closely together to make sure the water supply is secure.

  • What are industries like mining and cotton farming doing to conserve water?

    Water supply to industries and crop farming are managed by Sunwater.

    Sunwater works closely with their customers, including council, industries and farmers, to carefully manage water allocation to support ongoing water security and business confidence.

    Remember, these companies and their employees are a part of our community too and recognise the need to conserve water.

  • How many water restriction levels are there?

    There are five water restriction levels – 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the Central Highlands local government area.

  • Do you need to have a sign on front fence if you are watering lawns with grey water or tanks?

    It would certainly be a good idea to place a sign on your property that indicates if you are using an alternative source of water in your garden or on you lawn.

  • Can I install a water tank?

    Yes you can! Visit our rainwater tank information page and give our plumbing team a call on 1300 242 686.

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