Watering restrictions a 'proactive approach'

From the beginning of December Lismore residents will only be able to water their gardens every second day, in an odds and evens regime endorsed at Tuesdays Lismore City Council meeting.

It means odd numbered properties can water on odd dates of the month and even numbers on even dates.

Councillor Frank Swientek opposed the motion, saying he understood the initiative but felt it could be counter-productive to introduce mandatory restrictions at a time when Rocky Creek Dam was 95 per cent full.

Theres nothing more intrusive than telling people they cant water their gardens, he said. I can understand why people would resist. Its got to be sustainable not using big brother, police tactics and imposing it on people. Weve got to identify what will switch the people on to saving water.

The odds and evens regime was put forward by Councils general manager Paul OSullivan, who said in a report Lismore should be proactive in managing its natural resources, especially in light of serious water shortages across Australia.

The system has already been implemented in other parts of the country.

Councillor Jenny Dowell moved an amendment that everybody be allowed to water on the 31st day of the month, because otherwise there would be a situation where odd numbered houses could sometimes water twice in a row.

We have to have equity, she said. I know its getting petty but it has been an issue elsewhere.

Mr OSullivan said because it had never been done before, the system needed to be as simple as possible.

I did quite a lot of research, he said. And you can have quite complicated systems. It can get out of hand if we start putting in too many rules at this stage. If someone waters two days in a row, it doesnt matter.

Mr OSullivan noted that peer pressure was a factor in making the system work.

If someone is doing the wrong thing, they will feel pressure from their neighbours, he said.

Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins supported the motion, but questioned why the commercial sector wasnt being targeted.

She also noted that she had rainwater tanks at her urban property, which she used to water her garden. Would Council be issuing signs to people like her, so she didnt suffer abuse from her neighbours?

Probably not, said Mr OSullivan. But Im sure you can explain to your neighbours.

The motion was passed 10/1 (Cr Swientek against). An evaluation of the system will be undertaken in July 2007.

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