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Council at odds over providing timely dam level data

The Beagle Editor,

COUNCIL RESPONDS ON WATER SECURITY AND ITS ‘PLAN’ My concerns regarding Eurobodalla’s water security and its out dated 2011 Drought Management Plan, were forwarded to council and councillors on 7 Sept. Clr McGinlay responded the following day, saying my calculations, “about daily average water usage rates and dam capacity, estimates are way out. I can say this because councillors are regularly updated on such figures via our weekly newsletter. Perhaps the same figures should be made public on our Council website.(perhaps they already are but are difficult to find).” To which I responded, “Many thanks for responding to my email .......... and my concerns. And of course my calculations are inaccurate. They are based on 2011 information on page 9 of the Plan - “ Historical unrestricted average demands vary seasonally and range between 11.8 and 15.6ML/d and immediately preceding a drought condition it would be expected that unrestricted demands would be towards the high end of this range.” Such inaccuracies highlight the need to keep such important documents up to date, as they may result in dire consequences. If Deep Creek Dam was to be at 80% capacity when Level 1 restrictions come in on 14 October, daily usage would have to be down to 6 ML/d. I very much doubt the unrestricted usage rate would be that low. If Council has updated data on dam levels and water usage rates etc, it should be made available to the public on a weekly basis, particularly in times of drought. It should also be in an updated publicly available Drought Plan.” On 11 Sept I received a response from Council, to which I have replied with the following:

Thank you for responding to my email of Sept 7 regarding the 2011 ‘Eurobodalla Water Supply Drought Management Plan’ where I sought a response explaining: 1. why this document had not been reviewed/updated since 2011. 2. why the document, with its Code on Water Restrictions, is not publically available on council’s website. I find your response to Question 1 rather cryptic. You state: “In relation to your questions on the Drought Management Plan, this has been reviewed in conjunction with the policy review and again last year.” Does this mean council did not provide me with the current reviewed version? If so, could you please forward me the latest reviewed document. “The existing document is conservative and the current situation is being managed through our current policies.” Exactly which ‘existing document’ are you referring to – the 2011 Drought Management Plan, or last year’s reviewed version? Which ‘current policies’ is council using to manage the ‘current situation’? Why is council using ‘current policies’ if they have a reviewed Drought Management Plan? “That said, given the current dry period, we have commenced a full update of the Drought Management Plan leading into summer to ensure it reflects the current context.” If it was reviewed last year as you said, why does the Plan need a ‘full update’ now? Wouldn’t it require minimal update of data, such as rainfall, usage and dam levels? I must also thank you for providing me with current water storage and usage data. I am well aware my previous calculations were inaccurate, being based on out dated advice in the 2011 Drought Management Plan, as no current information is available. You have informed me that currently, Deep Creek Dam is 81%(3,970 ML) full and average water usage is 65ML/week(9.3ML/day). I refer you to a report to council on 13 Aug stating, “at the time of writing this report, Deep Creek Dam is sitting at 88% full with Level 1 water restrictions nominally introduced at 80% capacity. This will be required in about 6-8 weeks depending on demand,” also adding, “ .......prepare the community to move to Level 1 Water Restrictions from 14 Oct.” It’s now just over 4 weeks since that report, and Deep Creek Dam is already down to 81% with over 4 weeks to go till 14 Oct. Using your current data, Deep Creek Dam will be at about 74% mid Oct. Of course, as summer and the tourist season approach, and water trucks are busy filling empty tanks, consumption rates will increase. I envisage the Dam level will be somewhat less than 74%. OF INTEREST: Water demand during our last drought in 2009, 1 Aug – 7 Dec, LEVEL 2 Restrictions - daily demand was 11.27ML, 7 Dec – 24 Feb, LEVEL 3 Restrictions - daily demand was 13.48ML.   Unfortunately, it would appear that a response to Question 2 has been overlooked and no comment was made regarding my suggestion of accessing and utilising rainfall data from river catchments to help inform projections of water availability in the shire. In summation, apart from a copy of the most recently reviewed copy of council’s Water Supply Drought Management Plan and clarification of your answers to Question 1, I would welcome a response to the following questions: * Will council make the Drought Management Plan, and its Code of Practice: Water Restrictions and Conservation Measures Policy, publicly available on its website? * Will council consider using river catchment rainfall data in its Plan, rather than the Bay’s rainfall, as Deep Creek Dam doesn’t rely on rainfall due to having no catchment? * Will council consider publicising Dam levels and water usage data on its website during periods of drought? * What are the current trigger levels for each Water Restriction Level? (2011: L1 - 90%, L2 – 70%, L3 - 60%, L4 - 40%, L5 - 30%) I look forward to clarification on these issues. Yours Sincerely, Patricia Gardiner Deua River Valley


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