What the results tell us for Tumbarumba
There were no water shortages in Tumbarumba Shire during the reporting period, although water restrictions were in place for 97 days during dry summer periods in 2002–03. Average use of reticulated (tap) water was 86 megalitres per year higher than in the last reporting period. A drop in reticulated water consumption in 2003–04 was attributed to the introduction of a user pays system. The domestic sector continued to be the highest user of reticulated water.
Some rivers in the shire were reported to be under environmental stress at the end of the last reporting period, in part from high water extraction. Although dry conditions during the current period may have increased stress levels, no data on this were available. Environmental flows were not assessed for this report.
Supply—how much water could we have?
Tumbarumba Shire gets its water primarily from surface streams (rivers and creeks). Tumbarumba township draws its water from Burra Creek, and utilises Tumbarumba Creek as a backup supply when needed. Khancoban draws its water from Khancoban Creek.
How much water was available?
Surface flow in the creeks supplying the shire reflects climatic variability and the amount of water used. There was no shortage of water during this period.
Consumption—how much water was used?
Council was entitled to extract 14,971 megalitres of surface water (water from lakes, rivers and dams) per year under licence from the NSW Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources. As data were available only for reticulated water use, it was not possible to calculate total water use for the shire.
Total annual reticulated water use ranged from a high of 611 megalitres in 2000–01 to a low of 412 megalitres in 2003–04 (see Figure 1). The reduction in 2003–04 was aligned with the introduction of a new user pay rating structure. Average annual consumption during the current reporting period (521 megalitres per year) was higher than that in the previous reporting period (435 megalitres per year).
Reticulated water is supplied to 80% of the shire's population; the remainder utilise non-reticulated water from springs, dams, bores, rainwater tanks and creeks.
Source: Tumbarumba Council
Use by sector
The domestic sector was the highest user of reticulated water in the shire, followed by the commercial and industrial sectors (see Figure 2). During the reporting period, domestic and commercial use decreased annually from 2000–01, but overall remained higher than in the previous reporting period.
Source: Tumbarumba Council
At the end of the reporting period council was proposing to commence a program of upgrading the Tumbarumba Water Supply to provide reticulated water to the Hyne timber mill. This along with other infrastructure improvements will provide reticulated water to an expanded area surrounding the town and allow for reticulated water to be provided to more rural residential development areas.
For information on the treatment of the drinking water supply in the shire, see Drinking water quality.
The most recent report on environmental stress levels in rivers relevant to the shire indicated that Tarcutta Creek and the Murrumbidgee River had high environmental stress ratings in 1999 because of water extraction (Department of Land and Water Conservation 1999). The stress rating for the Murrumbidgee River was unrelated to activities in Tumbarumba Shire. It is likely that dry conditions experienced during this reporting period would have increased stress levels in rivers in the shire, although no data on this were available. Environmental flows were not assessed for this report.
Managing water demand and use
Council introduces water restrictions (see Table 1) if inflow and daily consumption are greater than the ability of Burra Creek to recharge downstream at the rate of one megalitre per day, and especially if Tumbarumba Creek is flowing too slowly. Stage 1 restrictions were in place for 29 days and Stage 2 for 68 days in 2002–03, during the dry summer period.
Source: Tumbarumba Shire Council
Recycling—making the drop go further
There is no water recycling in the shire. Council investigated recycling in 2001, but considered it unviable as a long-term sustainable option.
Laws and policy
Policies such as those under the 2003 National Water Initiative and laws passed in NSW during the reporting period, such as the Water Management Act 2000 and the Catchment Management Authorities Act 2003, were aimed in part at improving the efficiency of water use and putting in place water demand management strategies (see Government laws and policies). The extent to which these reforms affected water management in Tumbarumba Shire during the current reporting period was not assessed for this report.
Most of Tumbarumba Shire is within the upper Murray River catchment, while the remainder—northern areas in the upper Tarcutta Creek catchment and north eastern areas in the upper Tumut River catchment—are within the Murrumbidgee River catchment. The shire is thus within the Murray and Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority areas.
About the data
Data came from the Tumbarumba Shire Council and NSW Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources. Council maintains records of water use through managing its water supply. All graphs were compiled from data provided by Council.
No data were available for water use from private licences.
One megalitre = one million litres.
Department of Land and Water Conservation (1999) Stressed Rivers Assessment Reports: Murrumbidgee Catchment, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney.