Water restrictions have been imposed on some Bega Valley residents with one of the region's key water systems becoming undrinkable following bushfire debris runoff caused by recent heavy rain.
Bega Valley Shire Council issued Level 4 water restrictions on Wednesday for residents using the Brogo-Bermagui Water Supply System after the quality of water coming from the Brogo River into Brogo Dam following heavy rain was deemed "extremely poor" due to ash and sediment.
Brogo Dam rose from 10 per cent to overflowing in just one day. The water flowing into the dam is full of sediment, ash, soot and debris.Bega Valley Shire Council's water and sewer manager Chris Best
The Brogo catchment was largely burnt by both the Badja Forest and Werri Berri bushfires, and recent heavy rain has brought with it, what council's water and sewer manager, Chris Best, described as "significant challenges".
As a result, council has employed local contractors to transport drinking water from Bega to be used by residents in the north of the shire. Council said the "extreme solution" will ensure residents have enough water.
Mr Best said up to a million litres will be transported per day from Bega, which he said is "an expensive task with trucks working non-stop around the clock".
"Brogo Dam rose from 10 per cent to overflowing in just one day. The water flowing into the dam is full of sediment, ash, soot and debris," Mr Best said.
"With the turbidity levels subsequently being measured at well over 100 times the critical control level, the Brogo River supply has been isolated and emergency measures put in place.
"These emergency measures include carting water from Bega, re-commissioning the supply of water from Couria Creek Weir in the north and the installation of flocculation and sedimentation tanks at Brogo."
Residents now under new water restrictions include the areas of Quaama, Cobargo, Bermagui, Beauty Point, Fairhaven, Wallaga Lake, Wallaga Lake Heights, Akolele and Wallaga Lake Koori Village.
The restrictions now mean water in these areas may only be used outdoors for "essential health and safety purposes", council said.
"The use of water outdoors for garden watering, washing cars and boats, or for any other purpose is not permitted," a spokesperson said.
Mr Best said council is working closely with the Australian Defence Force to secure a portable water treatment plant, and NSW Health, WaterNSW, and the Department of Planning Industry and Environment are also providing advice and support.
He said residents using the Brogo-Bermagui supply should reduce their water use immediately to help protect their supply.
"Please think about how long you spend in the shower and how often you run your washing machine and dishwasher - every drop you save helps secure our water supply," Mr Best said.
"Without a significant reduction in demand there is a possibility we will need to resupply water from the Brogo River before it has reached desired quality levels."
Council said if this was to occur, the water supplied to the system will likely be discoloured and have a noticeable smoky taste and smell.
"Boiling water will likely be required to disinfect all water used for drinking or cooking. A boil water notice may also be necessary for alternative supplies from Couria Creek Weir and Tilba Dam," a spokesperson said.
"We acknowledge the difficulty this situation will create for many people and businesses in an area of the Shire that has suffered from the recent bushfires and we thank everyone in advance for their understanding and cooperation during this difficult and challenging time."