A community survey conducted on behalf of Rous Water has found that the majority of water customers in the Rous region support the idea of permanent and mandatory water conservation measures.

Unlike water restrictions, water conservation measures would ban the use of potable water for activities such as washing driveways, while an ‘odds and evens’ garden watering regime may be introduced on a permanent basis, irrespective of local dam levels.

Rous Water chairman Col Sullivan said: “We were quite surprised by the results of the survey.

“The message from the local community is very clear. Despite plentiful rain this year, there is an overwhelming view out there in the community that water conservation is very important and sensible measures for saving water on an ongoing basis are welcomed.”

The survey was conducted in July 2008 by Jetty Research, a Coffs Harbour market research company familiar with North Coast water supply issues.

In addition to several focus groups, a telephone survey was conducted among a total of 400 water customers, with input from 100 customers from each of Rous’ four local government areas – Ballina, Byron Bay, Lismore and Richmond Valley.

Three out of four, or 75 per cent, of those surveyed believed that ongoing water conservation measures should be compulsory, regardless of dam levels.

The survey quizzed customers about the introduction of water restrictions in the event of a drought.

Currently, Level 1 water restrictions would be introduced if the level in Rocky Creek Dam falls below 60 per cent.

One in three of those surveyed believed that 60 per cent was an appropriate level to commence water restrictions, while 58 per cent believed that they should be introduced sooner.

Of these, 22 per cent believed that certain water restrictions should apply at all times.

“We have been promoting the water conservation message in the community for a decade now and we’re very pleased to see it is returning positive results,” Cr Sullivan said.

“Not only does the survey show community support for permanent water-saving measures, actual water consumption figures also show that locals are already taking heed.

“Despite a significant population increase in the past 10 years, per capita water consumption in the region has actually decreased.

“Spurred on by the highly publicised scarcity of water elsewhere, it seems that the water conservation message is finally being embraced by a more aware community.”

Rous Water says it has now asked the Regional Steering Committee on Demand Management to draft a set of possible permanent measures for consideration by the council by March this year.

The complete survey results are on the Rous Water website at www.rouswater.nsw.gov.au