Residents in Sydney’s south-west have been asked to avoid using dishwashers and washing machines to conserve drinking water supplies after heavy storms forced the shutdown of a major filtration plant.
People living in Campbelltown, Narellan, Prestons, Macarthur and Camden areas should hold off non-essential water use, Sydney Water said.
"Heavy rain in recent days has put enormous pressure on the Macarthur Filtration Plant, with high levels of debris and turbulence in the catchment's water," Sydney Water said.
Bernie Sheridan, Sydney Water's treatment manager, said a succession of storms in recent days had triggered a release of silt into the Cataract Dam, reducing the quality of water reaching the plant. The water authority is currently spilling the dam to help reduce turbidity.
“We’re not expecting anyone to run out of water,” Mr Sheridan said, adding that the request for residents to curb water use is likely to continue for the rest of Tuesday.
Residents in the Macarthur region should halt discretionary water use, including filling spas or swimming pools, washing cars and watering gardens, Sydney Water said.
The filtration plant was shut down at 4am on Tuesday and may remain offline for hours to come. Water, though, will continue to flow from reservoirs and other parts of the network.
The disruption of the filtration plant is the second failure of Sydney Water’s facilities in the wake of heavy rains in about four months.
Last November, Sydney Water warned people to avoid contact with water from the Georges River for days after the Glenfield Wastewater Treatment Plant was overwhelmed by flows after a storm. An estimated 150 megalitres of untreated wastewater flowed into the river.
Monday's rain also caused an overflow of oil into Botany Bay from Caltex's Kurnell Refinery.
More rain to come
More rain is forecast for Sydney on Tuesday, although falls are only likely to be in 5-10 millimetre range, according to Brett Dutschke, senior meteorologist for Weatherzone.
Falls should again be heavy on Wednesday, though, with most eastern, southern and western suburbs likely to receive 20-30 millimetres, with the potential for 50 millimetres in some areas.
“Tomorrow’s the only real worry but it’s unlikely we’ll get as much rain as yesterday,” Dr Dutschke said.
The Camden area received almost 48 millimetres in Monday’s falls, while some areas clocked falls of as much as 50 millimetres in an hour or more.
The Cataract catchment copped heavy rains on the weekend and on Monday, triggering the silt surge into the Cataract Dam, Mr Sheridan said.
“At the moment, the risk looks fairly low in terms of the any storms causing any more trouble,” Mr Sheridan said.
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