DESPITE an imminent announcement on pulling more water from the Macquarie River pipeline, Orange residents are not letting up on cutting their consumption, with levels hitting their lowest in a decade.
Last week, residential consumption per person per day hit 119 litres.
Mayor Reg Kidd said it was likely to be the lowest consumption ever, but certainly in the past 10 years.
"To find a water use level anywhere near that figure, you've got to go back to record rainfall years like 2016," he said.
The Central Western Daily understands an announcement is expected within days to lower the pipeline trigger point to enable Orange City Council to start topping up Suma Park Dam after rain events.
However, Water Minister Melinda Pavey's office would not be drawn on a decision, saying a result was likely within the next week.
The council had applied to lower the trigger point to a flow of 38 megalitres through the river a day.
Cr Kidd said recent approaches to high residential water users had led to major drops in water use, Orange's stormwater harvesting system had captured six days-worth of water, or 62 megalitres, during January's storms and residents had recorded their lowest-ever levels of water use.
He said the council's water ranger had been working with the 15 highest residential water users since last year, based on their meter readings, and collectively, those households had been using 40,000 litres of water a day.
"These meter readings confirmed that each of our top 15 residential water users were using between 2000 and 5000 litres a day," he said.
"By comparison, a family of four meeting our target of 160 litres per person per day would be using 640 litres a day."
Cr Kidd said since the council had approached the households on the list, they had halved their water use, while the residential average had dropped to 119 litres per person per day.
This time last year, consumption was 200 litres.
He said the reasons behind the water use were varied, from leaks to higher numbers of people in homes, people with medical needs or even loitering teenagers.
"[Years ago] my children seemed to think the shower was a good place to stand around and think about what they were doing the next day, or turning the shower on and let it run for five minutes before they've got in," he said.
Cr Kidd said the process would be repeated with the next-highest water users with fines still on the cards, although none have been issued yet.
However, he issued a stern warning for residents trying to avoid detection by watering their gardens at night and $2200 fines would mean a day in court.
"Their water meter is always measuring how much they're using," he said.
"We'll continue to make contact with residents to ask them to explain a level of unexpected water use."
He said the move to level six, original scheduled for May, had been extended already because the prediction had been made based on no in-flows.
"We've had water from stormwater harvesting plus there's been some minor run-offs into our storage so any runoff we get extends us further," he said.
"The catchment is starting to get wet - with the storms we've [had], the water starts to penetrate into the soil profile and each time we get a storm event, you notice a bit more getting in the dam - not big quantities, we need a good steady storm of 50 millimetres over a week."
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