Your water questions answered

We are keen to tell you about our water and sewerage services and how to use water effectively so you get the best value for money and enjoy all the benefits that water brings to our lives.

Read common questions and answers about water accounts, usage and pricing, water restrictions and service interruptions. 

When are accounts issued for water and sewerage services?

Water charges are included on your rates notice, issued every three months (four times a year). Accounts must be paid by the due date or interest will be charged.

What are the payment options?

For information on how to pay your rates and water charges, see Make a payment.

What can I do if I think my account is incorrect?

Phone us on 6566 3200. If the account is incorrect, we will fix the problem straight away.

Am I entitled to a concession?

You are entitled to a concession on your account if you hold:

  • a Pensioner Concession Card
  • a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card (TPI and War Widows).

Please call us on 6566 3200 so we can arrange this for you.

Please note: the concession applies to the water access charges and not the usage.


What if I’m a tenant in a property?

You will receive an account for your water usage only if:

  • your water is separately metered
  • Council has been told you are the tenant.

As a tenant, you should raise this with your agent or landlord. Your real estate agent should read the meter when you start or finish a tenancy so you pay only for the water you use.

If you do not ensure the meter is read, you may become responsible for the previous or following tenant’s charges.

What if I am planning to change my address?

If you are selling a house, your solicitor will normally arrange for Council to be notified as part of the conveyancing process.

If you are moving without the use of a solicitor, please add us to the list of people you need to notify. Please give us two days’ notice, as we have to read your meter before you leave. There will be a charge for this special reading.

I’m having difficulty paying my account. What can I do?

Call us on 6566 3200 as soon as possible so we can help. We will provide you with information about alternative payment arrangements.

We have payment schemes that will put you in control of your account payments, enabling you to pay an agreed regular amount. The easiest way to do this is by direct debit from your bank account.

We will send a reminder notice to you if your account remains unpaid after the due date. You may have just forgotten or have been on holidays.

How much does my water cost?

Your water access charges depend on the size of your water meter and how much water you have used.

Please see the Water charges & meters page for current costs.

How much water does a general household use?

Download our Household Water Reference Chart(PDF, 226KB) to figure out how much water your household uses.

Usage rates for household water use


  • 12 litres per single flush
  • 6 litres per half flush

Your toilet consumes most of your water, so remember to check it for leaks.

The most common source of leaks is the toilet. Check toilets for leaks by placing a few drops of food colouring in the tank. If after 15 minutes the dye shows up in the bowl, the toilet has a leak.


  • 50 to 150 litres per bath
  • 40 to 250 litres per shower
  • 5 litres per use of basin
  • brushing teeth – 5 litres per clean (if tap left running)


  • sprinkler – 1000 litres an hour
  • car washing with a hose – 200 litres every 12 minutes
  • hosing driveway – 125 litres every 5 minutes


  • twin tub – 40 litres a load
  • front loading machine – 100 litres a load
  • top loading machine – 170 litres a load

Why do I need a water meter?

Water meters measure the amount of water that has entered your property. The water usage charges you have to pay are based on this measurement.

Our meter readers use equipment that automatically compares your current usage with the amount used in your previous period. If it is much higher than the time before, we will let you know. There may be an unidentified water leak on your property – under your home, for example.

How often are water meters read?

Water meters are read in September, December, March and June each year.

It is your responsibility to make sure your water meter is easy to access at all times. Sometimes home security systems, guard dogs and overgrown bushes stop us from reading the meter. In these circumstances, we may estimate the amount of water used based on your previous usage.

If there is anything that may prevent us from accessing the meter or present a danger to our meter readers, please tell us so we can make alternative arrangements.

What can I do if I think my meter is inaccurate?

We have special equipment that will allow us to test the accuracy of your meter. There is a charge for this service.

If the test shows the meter is inaccurate, we will replace the meter and refund the cost of the test. We will also refund any amount you were overcharged because of a faulty meter.

What happens if my meter is damaged?

Water meters are Council property. Call us immediately if you think your meter may have been damaged. Depending on the circumstances, we may recover the cost of the repair from the person responsible for the damage.

We recommend that you take extra care when mowing long grass. Identify the meter position with something highly visible.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

If you have no water, there is a sewerage spill or other emergency maintenance is required, please call us, night or day, on 6566 3200.

What if I see damaged pumps, pipes or equipment?

We need your help to make sure Kempsey Shire's extensive network of pipes, pumps, signs and valves keeps working effectively and continually.

We can’t be everywhere all the time, but our customers are. If you see something that is wrong or damaged with any of our equipment or installations, please call us immediately.

What happens if there is a burst water pipe?

If there is a burst water main, you may notice: 

  • sudden loss of water pressure 
  • water suddenly becoming dirty 
  • an unexplained hissing sound
  • a loud sudden ‘hammering’ sound in water pipes
  • a persistent damp or unusually green area on the lawn or nature strip
  • a continually damp pothole on the road during dry weather
  • water leaking up from a metal valve cover on the road.

Please call us on 6566 3200 so we can assess the situation and respond.

My water usage seems unusually high. Why?

You may have a leaking pipe or appliance somewhere on your property.

  1. Turn off all water appliances and taps and take a meter reading. DO NOT turn off the stop tap, which is the tap on your meter.
  2. Read the meter again after several hours, or preferably early the next day. If the reading has moved, it is likely that there is a leak on your property. You will need the services of a qualified plumber to help you locate it.
  3. Call us on 6566 3200 if you need further assistance.

What can I do if my service pipe needs maintenance?

The service pipe is the pipe that connects the large water main in the street to your meter.

If you think there is a problem with the service pipe, please call us.

What can I do if my water or sewerage service is interrupted?

Information about any interruption of service can be obtained by phoning Council on 6566 3200.

If you have no water or there is a sewerage spill, please call us at any time.

What should I do if I want to renovate, extend or build on my property?

You will need a licensed plumber and must get Council approval for the work. We offer free technical advice on all aspects of water and sewerage services and we’ll be glad to help.

What can I do if I have a life support machine?

If you have a life support machine, please register with us. That way we can contact you well before any planned interruption.

We will contact you immediately if we know of any unplanned interruption in your area. You will also be eligible for a small free water allocation towards use of the machine.

How can I make the best use of my water?

You now have more control over your water costs than ever before. Read our Water saving tips.

Can I collect rainwater or recycle domestic wastewater?

You have a right to collect and store rainwater for your own use. We are not responsible for maintaining this service or providing any minimum level of water quality.

NSW Health does not recommend the use of rainwater for consumption where a town water supply exists. Using tank water outdoors is fine – for example, in your garden. Contact NSW Health to check what restrictions apply to your home or business. The Department of Health also provides circulars on the proper maintenance of rainwater tanks. 

In general, you cannot recycle domestic wastewater in urban areas. It is your responsibility to check with Council and the Department of Health for conditions and approval. This will ensure that your property is suitable for certain reuse applications and the water reuse will not be dangerous to your health or your neighbours' health.

If I get a water tank, will I save money?

You can reduce your water usage costs by using tank water. However, there are a few points to consider. You will need to do your sums to see what may work for you. 

  • Council has regulations on where and how you place a water tank for safety and amenity reasons. For example, there is a size limit in urban areas and you must have a first-flush device fitted. Council can provide you with more details.
  • Business customers may gain a benefit from a water tank by using rainwater and/or trickle-feeding town water into storage to reduce their meter size. Some of Council’s high-use water business customers have investigated the option of trickle-feeding town water to a storage tank. They sought the advice of a hydraulics engineer to determine the minimum meter size to meet firefighting requirements and what costs and benefits a trickle-feed system would have for their businesses.

Are water restriction levels the same across New South Wales?

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 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.

How are the water restriction levels set?

Kempsey Shire has five stages of water restrictions. Staged water restrictions are imposed when Macleay River flows at rates below certain percentile bands. A flow percentile band is the percentage of time for which the river flows at a given rate. This rate is based on historically recorded figures.

The Kempsey water cycle relies on the flow of the Macleay River. The flow of the river is governed by rainfall in the upper Macleay catchment area, the area around Armidale and Walcha. Heavy rainfall in the Kempsey Shire does not necessarily mean a high river flow and no water restrictions.

No matter what level the water restrictions are at, Council needs your help to manage water, whether you are a resident or a visitor. Being water-wise means:

  • understanding the local Kempsey water cycle
  • not wasting water or taking it for granted
  • protecting our valuable water supplies so they are sustainable.

For more information, visit our Water restrictions page or view the Kempsey Water Cycle:

 Kempsey Water Cycle diagram

View full size image

How can I find out about chloramination?

How often are the water mains flushed in Kempsey Shire?

Due to better water management, Council no longer routinely flushes water mains. We may perform reactive flushing if required.

If your water is dirty please contact us on 6566 3200 and we will try to assist.