First of all are happy New Year, and hope for substantial, soaking rains in the very near future.
The first two weeks of 2020 have been extremely hot, often windy, but did see at least one rainfall event to help our struggling gardens.
I would once again like to thank the community for supporting the necessary restrictions we have at present to extend our water supplies as long as we possibly can, on the premise of no rain.
Most of the state has severe restrictions of various degrees, and many towns are relying totally on bores at present, and some unfortunately are forced to use water brought in.
But we have through your efforts been able to stay on level 5 - including watering of gardens for an hour between 6pm and 7pm on Sunday - but it is surprising how much grey water is produced from a household per day, and there is no doubt capturing it in the shower, for instance, will help immensely in the garden.
Council is having an extraordinary meeting tonight to discuss the media release that came out last week outlining the city's water situation, and at what time we would move to level 6 - if absolutely no substantial inflows to storages occurred.
We monitor daily, weekly and monthly usages, and monitor all reservoir storage. By having this data, and using models on climate status (temperature, evaporation etc) we can estimate our timelines on current restrictions.
It is important to note due to Orange's low consumptive daily use of potable water - we're averaging below 150 litres a person per day - even over the Christmas period, and the extreme temperatures we've had, Orange is regarded as the 'yardstick' with the relevant authorities in the way communities have embraced water restrictions in this incredible state-wide drought.
That status helped us prolong when we went to level 5, and has pushed level 6 out to May, at the earliest.
Just a few rumours that need debunking; first of all bores (personal urban bores, and ones on rural properties) are not controlled by Council, that is a NSW Water matter, but I would expect people to use them wisely as they are expensive to have, to run, and often their reliability falters due to recharging not happening due to the drought.
The next common rumour is we should be pumping from the Macquarie River via our pipeline. Firstly the river is barely running at the moment, and has been well below the height and flow rate where we are allowed to pump.
Even though we are expecting the trigger points to be varied by Government in the near future, it will rely on rainfall happening in the upper catchment, with good flows down the Macquarie river.
Another rumour is that Council does not use bore water - not true! Much of the watering trying to keep trees alive is bore water but much of this requires carting which is time consuming and expensive.
Certainly some critical community assets, all is being done to preserve, but it is a battle, like it is with your household gardens.
Finally Council has all necessary hands on deck exploring alternate water supplies for non-potable use that will support our non-household use to ensure it is business as usual in Orange.
We can not put up the 'Orange closed sign', as some would suggest.
If you have any queries please refer to Council or councillors who will give you the actual situation, not the keyboard warrior or lounge interpretation.
Last week we had many aspiring young cricket folk in Orange for age championships, and by all reports it was hugely successful and the organisers complemented Orange on the playing condition of our fields in this extreme drought. I know Councillor Hamling had a busy week and with the work commencing on the cricket centre of excellence at Wade Park our district's proud cricketing history will continue well into the future.
Australia Day is fast approaching and I am certainly looking forward to meeting our inspirational Australia Day ambassador David Hill, a paralympic legend.
At the extraordinary meeting to be held tonight discussion will be held on free access to the aquatic centre for Australia Day.
The grassed area on top of the Regional Museum is integral to the temperature control for the building, it is also a feature point for many visitors, school children and the community.
I know the vast majority of the community agree with Council doing all it can to maintain it as well as some other community areas.
This Wednesday there are two forums on water, then again on Thursday. One will be for community and one for businesses.
Please come if you want further factual information, and we want to hear any of your ideas.
Council elections are coming up in September this year and here is your chance to try and make a difference.
Council will hold forums for possible candidates and I am only too happy to talk personally to anyone seeking information, and the pros and cons.
See you Australia Day, and please keep safe in the last weeks of school holidays.
Orange mayor Reg Kidd
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