With Dam levels reaching 53.5% as of May 29 2019, Sydney Water will be enforcing water restrictions as of the 1st of June 2019.
What does this mean?
Basically you should buy a trigger nozzle for starters. This means you have to squeeze the trigger for water to come out of the hose so it isn’t being wasted for whatever task you are doing, whether it's watering your garden, washing your car, or hosing out bin juice after you bin has been emptied.
If you have a manual sprinkler system that you just turn the tap on and off, you can’t use it until its automatic and also has a rain sensor, soil moisture sensor, or makes automatic adjustments based on weather. You can't put a sprinkler on the end of a hose and move it around the yard anymore either.
If you have recycled water you can still use your sprinkler system. If you do not have recycled water you can use your sprinkler system as long as it has a rain/soil moisture sensor, or if your controller makes automatic adjustments based on weather.
The cheapest option to make your system comply is to install a rain sensor. These are relatively cheap and will prevent your system coming on once sufficient rain has fallen. There are wired and wireless versions of rain sensors.
If your controller is an old time based controller you may want to upgrade to a WiFi or "Smart" controller, as you can still waste a lot of water by not having automatic adjustments based on current weather. If you have it set for the hottest period in Summer and don’t go and change your run times frequently to suit the weather, you are wasting water.
Lets say you are going away on holidays in January. You don’t want your lawn to die if it’s hot with temps around 40+C like the past three Summers in Western Sydney, so you set your controller to run for 45 minutes per zone each day- just in case. As it turns out we have a cooler period of weather with temps around 28-32. Your system is still going to run for 45 minutes because it doesn’t make automatic adjustments.
If you have something like a Hunter Hydrawise wifi controller (see below image), you can set run times based on temps around 28-33C, but if it turns out hotter, your controller will automatically increase the run times by a percentage if the temperature is above say 35C. It also goes the other way and can decrease run times by a percentage if the temperature is below 27C or so. All these figures are easily adjustable to suit your property for the time of year it is.
There are plenty of options for “Smart” wifi controllers that make adjustments based on local weather, ranging from Orbit “B Hyve”, Rainbird ESP RZX/Me with LNK module for wifi access, to the more expensive Hunter Hydrawise.
The problem with a lot of these smart controllers is the weather station they are receiving information from is too far away. For example most of the Hills District temperature and rainfall figures are based off Olympic Park and can be way off. They may have a storm there where it rains heavily and they get 20mm of rain. Your system in Castle Hill shuts off because it thinks it’s had sufficient rain, but the storm missed Castle Hill. The same thing happens in reverse when we have a storm and it misses Olympic Park so your system still runs. It can also have a 5C difference in temperature readings during Summer.
Some weather based controllers are better than others for this reason. Some use historical weather data to make changes, while some communicate with the closest weather station to make changes. The Hunter Hydrawise is more expensive to buy but is much more accurate with many factors taken into consideration to have the correct figures at your property.
If your irrigation controller needs an upgrade, get in touch using the contact us page.
We all need to do our bit to not waste water. Nothing annoys me more than seeing sprinklers running after it’s been pouring rain all night, or people pulling out the hose to wash a few leaves off the driveway. There is a smarter way to use water.
Remember it is better to give your lawn deep, infrequent watering, rather than frequent shallow watering. This allows the top of the soil profile to dry out but there is still moisture deeper down. The turf roots will go searching down for this moisture which will give a much deeper root system, making your turf much more drought tolerant and requiring less water. It's also a good idea to aerate your lawn regularly with a core aerator, and use a wetting agent to help absorption of water into the soil.
With massive population growth in Sydney over the past decade our water storage just doesn’t last like it used to.
Our dam’s storage levels were at over 80% in January 2018, and despite a desalination plant being built we are now down to just 53.5% as of 29th May 2019. The population of Sydney is estimated to have increased by over 1 million people since the last water restrictions in 2003. Until our storage increases with new infrastructure such as a second desalination plant, our water usage will increase more and more as the population increases over time so we have to do our bit to make the water we have last, otherwise water restrictions will happen more often or be enforced permanently with harsher restrictions.
As per the Sydney Water site these are the new rules:
You CAN do the following:
- use a watering system only if it has one of the following features: Automated weather adjustment, rain sensor, soil moisture sensor.
- water lawns and gardens by hand held hose as long as your hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle, and you must water after 4pm and before 10am.
- water lawns and gardens with a watering can or bucket at anyime.
- water your gardens with drip irrigation.
- water new turf for one week after it’s delivered.
-Wash vehicles and buildings with a bucket, and hose with a trigger nozzles, or high pressure washer.
-Clean garbage bins and bin wash bays using a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.
-Flush boat engines.
-Clean bilges and essential safety components on boat trailers such as brakes.
-Top up an existing pool, and fill a new or renovated pool if you have a permit and pool cover.
You CANNOT do the following:
-Use standard sprinklers and watering systems at any time without the water saving features mentioned above.
-Leave running hoses unattended
-Wash vehicles and buildings with a hose without a trigger nozzle
-Hose down hard surfaces when you can use an alternative method to clean it such as hosing leaves off your driveway.