Water

Where does our water come from?

The major water storages in the area include Farmers Creek Dam #2, Oberon Dam, Lake Lyell and Lake Wallerawang. Only Farmers Creek Dam #2 and Oberon Dam supply drinking water.

Farmers Creek Dam #2

Water from Farmers Creek Dam is filtered at the Oakey Park Water Treatment Plant and supplied to Lithgow. The original lower dam (Dam #1) which was built in 1896 is no longer used. The upper dam which was built in 1907 has a capacity of 450 ML and has a top water level of 1000m AHD. Farmers Creek Dam has a small catchment area of 12 km². The secure yield of Farmers Creek Dam has been estimated at 400 ML/a under current environmental flow release requirements.

Clarence Water Transfer Scheme

The Farmers Creek Dam system is also provided with a supplementary supply from the Clarence Water Transfer Scheme. When there is insufficient natural water flow into the dam, up to 14 ML/day of water can be transferred from the Clarence Water Transfer Scheme.

Fish River Water Scheme

Fish River Water Scheme sources of water are the Oberon Dam (capacity 45,400ML) and the Duckmaloi Weir (20ML). Water gravitates to the scheme with pressure booster stations at Narrowneck and Mt Piper. Present water supply management for the use of water from the Fish River covers supply of drinking water to Lithgow's rural villages on a continuous basis but supply is also able to be connected to Lithgow town water under a supply arrangement. Provision for using this water is conditional and based on the availability of water from other sources such as Farmers Creek and Clarence Water Transfer Scheme. The FRWS currently operates for the villages beyond the water main junction at West Wallerawang.

Water Pricing

In 2010/2011, Council adopted a water charges structure that moves toward compliance with the State Government’s Best Practice Guidelines. This requires an access charge based on capacity (water meter size) and a two-step pricing system for water consumption for resident customers.

Under the Best Practice Guidelines, Council must receive no less than 75% of its water charges from residential customers via usage charges. Therefore high volume water consumers will pay more than those who consume a lower volume of water. The Minister for Water has agreed that Council may move toward this split over the next 3 years.

In accordance with best Practice Guidelines, business customers will be charged a flat rate per kilolitre without any step increase.

Water Quality

Lithgow City Council will notify customers of any water quality issues as soon as we become aware of them.

Customers who use large quantities of water or who are highly dependent on water, such as dialysis patients and businesses, are notified directly. Other customers are notified via community announcements and our website.

If you think you have an issue with your water quality we ask that you call us on 02 6354 9999 or visit our website.

Our comprehensive monitoring and maintenance program ensures our customers and consumers enjoy the highest quality water. However, external factors can sometimes alter water quality causing:

  • discoloured water 
  • algal bloom 
  • white water 
  • blue water
Discoloured Water

Discoloured water looks brown or muddy and can stain when washing. It is an irregular occurrence caused mainly by the natural element, manganese.

While water may look brown, it will not cause people to become ill if consumed. Manganese levels up to 0.5 mg/L are safe to drink. If you receive brown water, generally it will maintain manganese levels of less than 0.5 mg/L – and is therefore safe to drink.

Manganese collects on the inside of pipes. During times of high demand or changes in flow, these films can loosen, causing water to appear stained or dirty. We prevent the problem at our water treatment plants and undertake substantial flushing of the pipe system in affected areas.

If discoloured water is present, it can stain clothes when washing. During times of discoloured water we suggest residents delay washing clothes. If this is not possible, we recommend:
•running some water into the machine to check the water colour before washing clothes
•check the water colour before the washing machine reaches the rinse cycle – as it is at this stage that clothes can be stained.

What should I do if the washing gets dirty?

If your load of washing is dirty or stained, you should keep the washing completely wet, and not hang it out. If you have a nappy stain remover then the affected washing should be soaked and washed as directed, as they often can remove the stains once the water has been cleared.

Some washing powders cause the pH level of the water in the washing machine to increase, and this has the effect of causing manganese or iron in the water to come out of solution and to stain the washing. Also, powders high in phosphorus can also have the same effect.

A good quality liquid dishwashing detergent can also help remove dirty water stains.

Algal bloom

Blue-green algae (or cynobacteria) is responsible for many of the algal blooms in Lithgow's recreational waterways during the past few years. Blue-green algae feeds on nutrients washed into waterways, or from nutrients released from sediments.

Algal blooms are likely to form when:
•the water is relatively still
•nutrients levels are high
•temperatures remain warm
•after a period of high rainfall that results in nutrients being washed from the catchment into the dam

Although algal blooms are very rare in Farmers Creek Dam water supply, our water treatment plant using a combination of flocculation, filtration and chlorination is highly effective in treating water affected by a bloom, making it safe and palatable to drink.

White water

Milky or cloudy appearance is usually due to tiny air bubbles in the water. This can occur when air is trapped in the pipes after they have been repaired, or if carbon dioxide is released by the sudden reduction in pressure with a tap discharging.

Air in water is harmless and a glass of white water left standing will quickly clear.

Blue water

Blue water may have a cloudy, blue tinged appearance. It can taste bitter and metallic. In most cases it comes from copper pipe that has not been used for some time and has become slightly corroded.

Blue or green water may contain high levels of copper and should not be used for drinking or food preparation.

While blue water is potentially serious, the solution is simple. Flush the affected taps for one to two minutes before use. Testing shows that within seconds of flushing, copper levels drop to well below guideline limits.

Fluoride

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride occurs naturally and has been present on earth before life itself. All water supplies contain fluoride, however some do not have it at a level to provide protection against tooth decay.

What is water Fluoridation?

Water fluoridation involves adjusting the existing fluoride concentration in water to a point where it provides dental benefits for all the community.

How does Fluoride work?

Fluoride acts in a number of ways to strengthen teeth and make them more resistant to tooth decay. When fluoridated water is consumed during tooth formation fluoride helps the body to form high quality tooth enamel.

For people of all ages, fluoride in drinking water enables teeth to remineralise and repair damage continuously. The end result is less decay and teeth that look better.

Who will benefit from water Fluoridation?

The entire community benefits from water fluoridation regardless of age, income, and level of education or ability to access dental care. Australian communities that live in fluoridated areas have up to 60% less decay than those in areas of low fluoride.

Is water Fluoridation safe?

As with other elements, fluoride is safe and effective when used and consumed properly. Through continuous research, drinking water that has optimal levels of fluoride has been scientifically proven to be safe (not toxic) and effective. Healthy teeth and gums are vital for general health.

What level of Fluoride will be added?

Lithgow’s level of natural fluoride is around 0.1 parts per million (ppm). Water fluoridation will adjust that natural level in drinking water to the recommended level of 1.0 ppm.

What do some of the world’s major health authorities say about water fluoridation?


World Health Organisation:
•Fluoridation of water supplies significantly improves dental health.
•Fluoridation of water supplies is the most effective public health measure for the prevention of dental decay.

Public Health Association of Australia:
•Water fluoridation has been demonstrated to be effective in preventing tooth decay.
•It should continue to be regarded as a safe and effective public health measure.

Water Restrictions

Level 1 water restrictions are now in place and apply to all residents in the Lithgow Local Government Area.

For private garden watering sprinklers may be used for up to 8hrs a day between the hours of 6am-10am & 5pm-9pm in summer and 6am-10am & 2pm-6pm in winter. There are no restrictions on the use of hand held hoses & micro-systems. There are no restrictions on the filling of private swimming pools, washing of paved areas and roof and washing of motor vehicles.

View

Detailed list of water restrictions

Recent Dam Levels

Dam Date Capacity
Lithgow Dam #2 2 December 2016 100%
Oberon Dam 2 December 2016 99%

Download

Guide to rainwater tanks

Rainwater Tank Rebate

One of Lithgow’s most important water catchment areas is just above your head! During heavy rain storms, hundreds of litres of water can drain off an average roof. By installing a rainwater tank, you can capture and store this precious resource to help ease the strain on our town water, and also save money on your water accounts.

Council provides a rainwater tank rebate scheme to help you do this. Council is offering rebates as follows:

  • 2000-4999 litre tanks – $150
  • Over 5000 litre tanks – $300

Download Rainwater Tank Rebate Form

 

Household Appliances

For water efficient Household appliances such as Dishwasher or Washing machine that have a four star WELS rating or AAAAA rating a rebate of $150/appliance/Household.

Terms & Conditions

  • The property must be residential in nature and be connected to a reticulated water supply.
  • Appliance must be newly purchased and a copy of receipt showing vendors telephone number.
  • A copy of the receipt for the purchase of appliance/s must be included.
  • Claims can only be made once for each appliance/s at property listed on application form.

This is one of the many ways Lithgow City Council is working with the community to create sensible solutions for people and the environment to ensure that clean, fresh drinking water doesn't become a luxury item.

For a comprehensive guide to rainwater tanks, or full details of the rebate offer and terms and conditions, refer to Council’s guide to rainwater tanks.

Download Household appliances rebate application

Water Leaks

Leaking pipes, toilets and taps can waste a lot of water, leading to high water bills. For example, a tap that drips once every second will waste up to 33 litres a day. Leaks can also cause structural damage to your property and even attract termites.

Checking for leaks regularly and repairing them quickly is a simple task that can be often overlooked as a way to save water and money.

This section provides some simple ways to detect leaks, the steps you should take if you find a leak and what you can do to help prevent leaks.

Checking for leaks at home

Lithgow City Council is responsible for water leaks from the supply system up to and including the water meter. Water leaks that occur from water pipes and fittings on your side of the water meter are the responsibility of the property owner.

If you find a leak, turn off your water supply immediately and call a licensed plumber.

If you think you may have a leak or would like to check, please follow the steps below:

  1. Turn off all taps and water using appliances in and around your home. 
  2. Check your water meter. If the dials on your water meter are moving there could be a leak. If there is no movement on the dials, there may still be a slow leak. 
  3. To check if there is a leak or a slow leak, do not use any water for a substantial amount of time, such as overnight, then take another reading. If the meter reading has changed, there may be a slow leak. 
  4. To fix the leak, check all fixtures and fittings and/or call a licensed plumber.

Plumbing work carried out must be completed by a licensed plumber or a licensed tradesperson, working under the direction of a licensed plumber.
Refer to the Yellow Pages.

How can I prevent leaks?

Preventing leaks in your home could save you money. Here are some simple ways to prevent leaks:

  • Take care not to plant large trees over pipes and mains that run through your property as their root growth may damage the pipes 
  • Root growth can also cause cracks and leaks in your pool. Please speak to your local nursery about suitable plants 
  • Inspect your pool regularly for cracks and signs of leaks 
  • Ensure automatic watering systems (e.g. pool top up, irrigation) are regularly maintained and checked for leaks 
  • Turn taps off gently to help lengthen the life of washers 
  • If you have a water hammer problem, install water hammer arresters. By reducing shock, these help extend the life of affected pipes 
  • Ensure all building and renovation work is undertaken by a licensed professional.