Water restrictions FAQs

General

Why are we introducing Level 1 restrictions?

Level 1 Water restrictions are introduced when our main water source, Copperlode Falls Dam, drops below 80% capacity due to the impacts of a very dry, dry season, late wet season and/or rain not falling within the catchment. Reducing our water consumption now will help us to save water to last us until the next wet season.

When will they apply?

Level 1 water restrictions were introduced on 17 November 2020.

Who do they apply to?

All residents living within the Cairns Local Government Area (LGA) are subject to water restrictions. View a map of the Cairns LGA.

What are the new restrictions under Level 1?

Level 1 water restrictions are an extension of our permanent water conservation measures and continue to focus primarily on outdoor water use. Please ensure you only irrigate your garden within the following times:

  • Odd-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • Even-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • No sprinkler use permitted on Monday.
  • Hand-held hoses with a trigger nozzle, water cans and buckets can be used at any time. 

See the full list of Level 1 Water Restrictions ( PDF, 0.15 MB )

Can Council enforce watering times?

Yes, penalties can be issued under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008.

Who is responsible for introducing and removing water restrictions?

Council is responsible for the introduction and removal of water restrictions.

When will we go to the next level of water restrictions?

Level 1 water restrictions will remain in place until water storages recover to 80% and beyond with a strong prediction of enough rain to top up our dam levels. Our supply needs to be at a level that will last us until the next wet season. Council continually assesses the level of supply to determine how and when we go into the next level of water restrictions. Remember, just because it’s raining around you, doesn’t mean it’s raining in the catchment area.

Exemptions

How do I apply for an exemption for my home?

Residential customers who are unable to comply with the Level 1 restrictions are required to apply for an exemption for any watering outside of permitted watering times under Level 1 Water Restrictions.  Exemption approvals are on a case by case basis and are not guaranteed.

Learn more about Level 1 water restrictions ( PDF, 0.15 MB )

To apply for an exemption, please contact Customer Service on 1300 69 22 47.

How long will it take for Council to review/approve my exemption request?

We aim to respond to exemption requests within 5 business days, however during high volume application periods there may be a slight delay.

I already have an exemption under the permanent water conservation measures. Does this apply for Level 1?

No. As we move through different levels of Water Restrictions, new exemption request applications are required. There is no guarantee that an exemption granted under the permanent water conservation measures will result in an exemption granted under Level 1 restrictions.

To apply for an exemption, please contact Customer Service on 1300 69 22 47.

What’s excluded from water restrictions?

Exemption requests do not apply for the following:

  • Bore water
  • Recycled water
  • Rainwater
  • Greywater
  • Water used for emergency services

As with all water, recycled water is a valuable resource and should be used wisely. It is important to only use what you need.

Bore water

If I use bore water or water extracted from rivers, do permanent water conservation measures apply?

Water that is supplied from bores and rivers is not regulated by Council and is therefore not impacted by water restrictions. For more information on water bores and groundwater management, please visit the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy website.

If you are using bore water, please ensure you display a “Bore Water In Use” sign on your property.

Recycled water

If I use recycled water, do Level 1 water restrictions apply?

No. Recycled water is not impacted by water restrictions. As with all water, recycled water is a valuable resource and should be used wisely. It is important to only use what you need.

Inside your home

Is water used inside my home restricted?

Level 1 water restrictions primarily apply to outdoor water usage. However we encourage residents and businesses to help water saving efforts by limiting their shower time to a maximum of 4 minutes and repairing leaking toilets and dripping taps as quickly as possible. Practise water efficiency wherever possible.

Gardens and outdoors

What is the definition of a sprinkler?

A sprinkler is a device used to spray water. It includes micro-spray and misting systems.

Can sprinklers be used under Level 1 water restrictions?

Please ensure you only irrigate your garden within the following times:

  • Odd-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • Even-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • No sprinkler use permitted on Monday.
  • Hand-held hoses with a trigger nozzle, water cans and buckets can be used at any time. 

See the full list of Level 1 Water Restrictions. ( PDF, 0.15 MB )

Is drip irrigation allowed?

Drip irrigation including weeper hoses, are not allowed to be used on Mondays, however can be used as per the permitted sprinkler times on designated days:

  • Odd-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • Even-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.

What day can I water my garden and lawn?

Sprinklers can be used to water the garden and/or lawn at the following times:

  • Odd-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • Even-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • No sprinkler use permitted on Monday.
  • Hand-held hoses with a trigger nozzle, water cans and buckets can be used at any time. 

See the full list of Level 1 Water Restrictions.

Do Level 1 water restrictions apply to watering new turf or a new garden?

Under Level 1 Water Restrictions, new lawns can be watered on the day of installation for a period of one hour at any time with sprinkler with timer-shut-off. On any day between the hours of 6am and 8am and 6pm and 8pm for a period of 14 days after the installation date (receipt of installation required), by sprinkler with timer-shut-off.

After 14 days from the day of establishment all level 1 water restrictions apply including watering times –

  • Odd-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • Even-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • No sprinkler use permitted on Monday.
  • Hand-held hoses with a trigger nozzle, water cans and buckets can be used at any time. 

See the full list of Level 1 Water Restrictions.

Can I use a high pressure cleaning device?

Pathways, driveways, outdoor decks, concrete or pavement, walls, roofing, gutters and vehicles can be cleaned with high pressure cleaning equipment within the permitted watering times:

  • Odd-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday only between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.
  • Even-numbered properties permitted to use sprinklers on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday between the hours of 6am - 8am and 6pm - 8pm.

Can I hose external hard surfaces such as paths and driveways?

Hosing of external hard surfaces (paths, driveways, concrete, outdoor decks and balconies) is allowed for safety, health, fire, or other emergency reasons with a hose fitted with trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaner within the permitted times. For example, cleaning spilt food or drink, cleaning after accidents, cleaning animal droppings, cleaning areas affected by sewer overflows and cleaning public amenities is acceptable. The use of a bucket filled directly from a tap is permitted at any time.

If I have a rainwater tank, do Level 1 water restrictions still apply?

Only rainwater tanks that are not connected to the drinking water supply are exempt from water restrictions. An exemption request would not be required in this instance.

Can I wash my pet outside?

Yes, under Level 1 water restrictions you may wash and rinse your pet using a bucket or a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle at any time on any day.

When can I water with a bucket or watering can?

Watering cans and buckets can be used at any time.

Am I allowed to clean my garbage bin at any time?

Cleaning your garbage bins is allowed, provided you are using a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle. Do this on the grass whenever possible.

If I have a water feature or fountain can I still run it at any time?

Yes, as long as it recirculates the water. Water lost from fountains can only be replaced by means of hand held hoses, watering cans or buckets filled directly from taps.

If I have a gardener or a contractor who works in my garden, do they have to comply with Level 1 water restrictions?

Yes.

Can I water in fertiliser, pesticide, chemical any time of the day after application on my garden or other outdoor area?

No. Level 1 water restrictions apply.

Buildings

Am I allowed to wash my house and driveway down?

You can wash building structures, windows, walls, gutters and roofing using a high pressure - low volume cleaner, trigger hose or bucket or watering can filled directly from a tap at any time.

Pools and spas

Can I top up an existing pool?

You can top up an existing pool or spa as per permitted watering times under Level 1 water restrictions.

If I am installing a new pool or renovated pool can I fill it?

No restrictions apply under Level 1 water restrictions.

Vehicles, boats and caravans

Can I wash my car or caravan?

Yes, under Level 1 water restrictions you may wash and rinse any car or caravan with a watering can or bucket filled directly from the tap at any time of the day. Trigger hoses can be used only to rinse vehicles after washing.

Should I wash my car or caravan on the lawn?

Wherever possible, try to wash your car or caravan on the lawn remembering to use a watering can or bucket filled directly from the tap and the trigger hose only to rinse vehicles after washing. This way you can avoid stormwater pollution, save water, as well as water and fertilise your lawn.

Can I wash my boat?

Yes, under Level 1 water restrictions you may wash and rinse any car, boat, truck, jet ski or caravan with a watering can or bucket filled directly from the tap at any time of the day. Trigger hoses can be used only to rinse vehicles after washing.

Boat motors may be flushed and rinsed after use.

Can I wash my car, boat or caravan at car wash outlets?

Yes. Cars, boats and caravans can be washed at car wash outlets that save water by recycling wash water and using trigger hoses.

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Last updated: 20 November 2020