Despite the widespread falls across the Mid Coast local government area (LGA) water restrictions will remain in place until regular rain returns to the region.
Close to 40mm has fallen in Forster Tuncurry since last Thursday, January 16, boosting figures to 56.9mm since the start of the year, with a promise of more to come later in the week, while the catchment averaged around 84mm of rainfall for the weekend and 100mm for January.
Severe level four water restrictions will need to stay in place until river water quality improves and pumping to refill the Bootawa water storage can occur, MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Robert Scott said.
"We are very pleased to see water flowing again in water courses across our catchment, but we can't start refilling Bootawa storage just yet until the water cleans up," Mr Scott said.
"The rainfall we have received looks even better when you consider that only 500mm was received for the whole of 2019.
"Obviously this year is already looking like it could be better that last year."
We are optimistic that we will get a chance to transfer some water from the river to Bootawa Dam later this week or possibly next week.Robert Scott
While remaining optimistic, Mr Scott said MidCoast Council would continue to be prepared in case regular rainfall did not return to the region for the remaining summer months and autumn.
"This first flush of rain will bring all sorts of debris and possible pollutants down the rivers with it, and we need to ensure our water treatment plant can purify the water to Australian drinking water standards.
"We are optimistic that we will get a chance to transfer some water from the river to Bootawa Dam later this week or possibly next week.
"At this stage it is too early to be able to predict how quickly the water quality will improve and when we will be able to extract some water.
"It is also difficult to tell how fast the river levels may drop again - so restrictions remain in place until we are confident of supply."
The rainfall has allowed more time to have the temporary desalination plant at Nabiac installed and ready to go.
"Unfortunately the vandalism at the desalination plant construction site last week added at least a week of delay, so we will need every bit of extra time we can at this stage."
For the Manning-Great Lakes supply, if the Bootawa water supply is exhausted, we will need to manage on around 15-17 million litres per day, he said.
The Nabiac borefield is being expanded to enable it to provide up to about 14 million litres per day, while the temporary desalination plant will provide around an extra three million litres initially - and make up the gap to supply emergency water to the Manning-Great Lakes area.
"We would like to thank everyone for the continued co-operation with water restrictions; it's essential we keep up this effort to save water, and not relax now that we've had one decent fall of rain.
"There's more to be done."
Gloucester has had a small river rise and we are looking to recommence our water treatment plant and pumping from the river, Mr Scott said.
The Karuah River at Stroud hasn't seen the same increase in flow as the other sources, and we will keep watching this closely, he said.
Bulahdelah's water storage has been refilled - allowing a buffer for that water supply in case there's no further rain for a while.
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