Water restrictions introduced, $220 fine
Sydney should be following Melbourne's lead on water conservation, a water scientist has urged as the Harbour City enters restrictions for the first time in a decade.
The NSW capital on Saturday entered level one water restrictions after dam storages dropped from 95 per cent to 53.3 per cent in two years.
"We've lost so much of our supply in an incredibly short period," Western Sydney University urban water expert Ian Wright told AAP.
"Water is trickling into our dams but it's pouring out of people's taps.
"On average, we're losing about an Olympic-size swimming pool roughly every two minutes and 15 seconds."
Sydneysiders will have three months to adjust to the new rules before $220 fines are dished out.
While water restrictions aren't mandatory until dam levels hit 50 per cent, Dr Wright welcomed the early move and said it would raise awareness in Sydney of the need to better conserve water.
But he wants authorities to go further and adopt Melbourne's daily target of 155 litres per person.
The target is advertised publicly and placed prominently on water bills, which clearly state how residents are faring against the target.
Sydneysiders used an average of 210 litres a day in 2018, compared to 161L/day in Melbourne.
"I would like the target to be plastered everywhere," Dr Wright said. "It's good to have restrictions with consequences but I would love to have Sydney Water adopting Target 155." Sydney Water currently lists water efficiency targets for homes on its website. Under the city's level one restrictions, hoses must have a trigger nozzle or another attachment with an instant on-off mechanism and lawns and gardens can't be watered between 10am and 4pm.
Hosing hard surfaces, washing of vehicles and filling new or renovated pools are also restricted.
Sydney last faced restrictions in 2009, though permanent water rules have been in place ever since.
In January, the city's desalination plant returned to operation for the first time in seven years.
It's now working at about 50 per cent capacity and will add about 15 per cent to the water supply when it reaches full operation, Water Minister Melinda Pavey said this week.
Level two water restrictions are expected to be triggered if dam levels fall to 40 per cent.