How do we measure level of water in Kempsey Shire?

Kempsey Shire Council

Kempsey Shire is currently at Level 1 Water Restrictions. To help community understanding of our water supply, each week Council provides the community with updates on Kempsey’s water situation by updating four key figures that together are used to measure our water.

To see the latest data for each topic, please head to

Average rainfall

Weekly average rainfall observations are recorded from weather stations throughout the Shire. Our water supply relies upon rainfall. As such, the fall of rain in key catchment areas is a vital source of information for anticipating future water security.

The Kempsey water cycle relies on the flow of the Macleay River. The flow of the river is governed by rainfall in the upper and middle Macleay catchment area, the area around Armidale, Walcha and down to Bellbrook. Heavy rainfall in Kempsey does not necessarily mean a high river flow and the removal of water restrictions.

River flow update

A large portion of our shire primarily draws it’s water through the Sherwood borefield, which is reliant upon a strong river flow. A majority of the Shire’s water supply is switched from the borefields to dam supply once the river flow rate falls too low.

Steuart McIntyre Dam Level

While many assume that the dam level is the sole indicator for water restrictions, our dam is intended to be our last reserve. Ideally our water usage comes directly through the borefields and leaves our dam levels untouched. As such, it is already a sign of water shortage if the dam is providing water for daily use.

The dam level is however a key factor in determining which level of water restrictions are in place.

Average daily water usage

Council measures the daily water consumption across the Shire. This measurement is a vital metric used to decide which water restriction levels are required to conserve the current water supplies.

Kempsey Shire has five stages of water restrictions. Water restrictions have recently been made uniform across the NSW North Coast region, from the Great Lakes area to the Tweed Shire. This means, for example, that the restrictions under Kempsey Shire’s Level 1 restrictions are similar to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council’s Level 1 restrictions. It does not mean that the councils or water utilities in the area will be on the same restriction level at the same time.

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