GRIFFITH may pride itself on being an "oasis in the desert", but brown lawns and wilting shrubbery have become a familiar sight in the city's streets.
Homeowners have been forced to make the difficult choice between astronomical water bills and parched gardens after a remarkably dry start to the year.
Soaring water consumption figures prove many have opted to reach deep into their pockets, with more than 1160 megalitres used in Griffith and Yenda in January.
The usage is only 20 megalitres less than January 2010, during the final throes of the drought.
Bellavista Drive resident and gardening enthusiast John Gardiner said he had doubled the amount of water used on his property this year.
"If you look around Griffith at the moment, there are two types of lawn - lawns that are getting a lot of water and lawns that are going off," Mr Gardiner said.
"We used to water for two hours on a Saturday morning and that was adequate last year, the year before and the year before that.
"Now we're watering for three hours on a Saturday and an hour-and-a-half on a Sunday.
"There's no water deep down. I haven't seen it this dry in the ground for a very long time."
Mr Gardiner is one of the lucky few who have access to high security irrigation water, which costs just under 3 cents per kilolitre, plus the electricity cost of pumping it.
In comparison, town water is billed at 60 cents per kilolitre for the first 200 kilolitres and $1.11 thereafter.
On Wyangan Avenue, avid gardener Angelo Dal Broi had also chosen quality over economy.
"To keep this garden going is going to cost a small fortune," Mr Dal Broi said.
"But the town should be beautiful and the gardens should be thriving.
"People take a lot of pride in their gardens and lawns here in Griffith so it would be nice if we could be given a cheaper alternative to keep them beautiful.
"Raw water would be perfect or just a drop in the price of town water."
However, council utilities director David Tull said it was not possible to reduce the price of water to landholders.
"We have the second or third lowest price for town water in the state," Mr Tull said.
"Some of our neighbours are charging over $2 per kilolitre, which is a lot higher than ours.
"While raw water is very cheap, the cost of distributing it to properties is in the millions of dollars."
Mr Tull said there had been no indication water restrictions would be put in place this year.