Sydney’s dam storage levels have dipped below 50 per cent for the first time in 12 years with no end in sight to drought conditions.

Greater Sydney’s dam capacity this week fell to 49.7 per cent, according to Water NSW, which is 0.4 per cent down from the previous week.

That means dam levels are below 50 per cent for the first time since 2007. They initially dropped under the halfway mark in 2004.

The NSW government in May introduced Level 1 water restrictions early when greater Sydney’s capacity was at 53.5 per cent.

Level 1 restrictions are compulsory when dam levels fall to 50 per cent.

Under the restrictions, hoses must have a trigger nozzle or another attachment with an instant on-off mechanism, and lawns and gardens are to be watered before 10am and after 4pm.

Rules also apply to hosing hard surfaces, washing vehicles, boats and buildings, using watering systems and filling new or renovated pools.


Level 2 water restrictions are triggered when dam levels fall to 40 per cent, according to the Metropolitan Water Plan.

Water NSW’s weekly storage report said rainfall was negligible across the Warragamba, Upper Nepean, Woronora, Shoalhaven and Blue Mountains catchments, with little relief expected in coming months.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s spring climate outlook has forecast a drier than average season for most of mainland Australia, with less than 200 millimetres of rain expected across the Sydney area.

Sydney’s desalination plant was switched on again in January when the city’s water levels dropped below 60 per cent.