DUBBO used more than three times as much water per day as Orange, and Bathurst used more than twice as much according to staggering figures for last week from the three councils.
Orange’s residents and industry used just 12.41 megalitres of water per day on average, while Dubbo and Bathurst guzzled through 38 megalitres and 26.1 megalitres per day last week.
Orange and Dubbo councils both keep a close eye on the amount of water residents use, unlike Bathurst which does not calculate the water usage per head of the population.
Orange residents used an average of 226 litres of water per day, less than a third of Dubbo’s usage of 710 litres each person per day, according to averages for last week.
Spokespeople for Bathurst and Dubbo councils said both promoted the wise use of water, but unlike Orange neither have any water restrictions in place.
Orange is at level two water restrictions allowing residents to water their gardens on an “odds and evens” system, despite Suma Park Dam sitting at 96.31 per cent and Spring Creek Dam at 97.66 per cent.
Orange mayor John Davis defended the water restrictions saying council felt it was the responsible way.
“If we used as much as Dubbo and had no restrictions ... the amount of water in our dam would halve,” he said.
“We’re not as safe as we think we are.
“I’ve said for years that everyone in NSW or Australia should be on some sort of restriction.”
Cr Davis said Orange’s lower water usage showed how silly the criticism some Bathurst and Dubbo residents had levelled at the Macquarie Pipeline project was.
“It helps our case in regards to our argument that we are not a threat to the Macquarie River, in fact we’re far from it,” he said.
Cr Davis said he appreciated that some residents felt they deserved to be able to use more water, but said if the dry period continued dam levels could drop substantially.
“I wouldn’t say Dubbo or Bathurst are using too much, that’s up to them,” he said.
“But a week ago you’d say we’re in a green drought but the last couple of days are looking very ominous.”
Despite using less water than its neighbours Orange residents are slugged with the highest water costs of the three councils at $1.75 per thousand litres (kilolitre) and a $191.85 yearly availability charge per household.
Dubbo residents pay $1.58 for a kilolitre of water and $188.25 for their yearly water access charge, and in Bathurst a kilolitre of water costs $1.52 and the yearly availability charge is $112.
Cr Davis said the higher water prices did act as a deterrent and encouraged residents to use less water.