Reservoirs across Australia are recording dwindling inflows as the climate warms and dries, a trend that is likely to continue and force cities, including Melbourne and Sydney, to bolster the security of water supplies.
A new study by University of NSW scientists published in the Water Resources Research journal examined streamflow data for 222 catchments and applied six of the latest climate models. All models forecast drops in supply.
“We are looking at an average of 20 per cent reduced reliability in the future across all the catchments considered,” said Ashish Sharma, a professor at UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and an author of the report.
The Berejiklian government is yet to commit to a source of electricity to power the expansion of desalination in the state, potentially locking in a significant new source of greenhouse gas emissions for NSW.
The move has sparked demands from Labor, the Greens and independent MPs for the government to protect households from higher water bills to fund the expansion, given it stands to pocket $2.5 billion in dividends from Sydney Water between 2018 and 2021.
With no end in sight to the prolonged dry spell which has gripped the area for more than 12 months, MidCoast Council is fast-tracking the development of a temporary desalination plant at the Nabiac Aquifer water supply plant.
“We’ve made the decision to ensure water security for the Manning-Great Lakes scheme, which supplies 90 per cent of our water users,” MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Rob Scott said.
The desalination plant in Sydney, Australia, which creates 250 million litres of vital drinking water per day, has an unexpected benefit of also attracting close to four times as many fish to the area, researchers revealed on Thursday.
Now, a seven-year study by Southern Cross University (SCU) and the University of New South Wales has shown that in the areas where the plant discharges it’s excess salt — roughly 300 metres offshore — fish numbers have exploded by 279 percent.
Having access to the pipeline in addition to Barwon’s storages and the Anglesea borefield – as well as encouraging water savings and use of alternative water supplies such as recycled water and stormwater – means water supplies for the City and surrounding districts are secure.
Tugun desalination producing 15 per cent of southeast Queensland’s water supply during drought – Australia
It comes as the State Government launches a new campaign called “Every Drop Counts”, urging Gold Coasters to limit their water consumption by cutting usage by 25 per cent to 150 litres per person per day.
Sydney Water has submitted a revised submission to the Independent Pricing Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a proposal that would see annual water bills rise by $30 a year with dam levels on Tuesday sinking to 46.3 per cent.