ORANGE City Council is calling on residents to help the city’s street trees survive the summer by sparing some of their spare time and their water to keep the trees near their home alive.
But an idea to reimburse residents for the extra costs to their water bills could cost the council at least $30,000.
With as many as 20 per cent of street trees in new housing areas dying and many mature trees also showing serious signs of stress, council is asking residents to adopt a tree and water it with a bucket of water twice a day every second day, in line with water restrictions.
Council estimates the extra watering will add around $2 to $3 to the quarterly water bill.
Mayor John Davis encouraged residents to take up the council’s challenge but acknowledged the extra money could be a stretch for some residents.
“I’ll put it to the next [council] meeting to have a set fee in the water bill in regards to reimbursing residents,” he said.
“I’d like to see a credit for $3 or maybe $5 on each bill.
“The street trees and the trees in front of houses and businesses are an investment to the Orange community.”
If his fellow councillors agree to reimburse the city’s 15,600 water bills $3 each next quarter it would cost $46,800.
Cr Davis said replacing the city’s trees would be costly for the council and would also mean more water would be used to establish new trees.
“There is a limit to what our council staff can do ... that’s not a defeatist attitude but we haven’t got the manpower to water every tree in the city,” he said.
“If the dry spell keeps up ... we’ll lose a lot of trees.”
He said council may only need residents to water street trees for the next two to three weeks until it rains.
City presentation manager Nigel Hobden said young street trees less than 10 years old would benefit from watering with a bucket but more mature trees would need greater amounts of water to survive.
Orange has 12,500 street trees and Mr Hobden said council expected about 1 to 2 per cent would die this summer.
For more information about how to make the best use of water to look after mature trees see www.orange.nsw.gov.au/trees.