The Water Corporation said yesterday that almost 100 billion litres of run-off had flowed into Perth’s network of reservoirs between June and last month — just shy of the post-1975 average of 107 billion litres.
The project is a 30-year concession to finance, construct, operate, and maintain the largest desalination plant in the southern hemisphere and is capable of producing 444 million litres of drinking waters a day.
Drought-affected farmers in New South Wales have called for South Australia to increase the use of its desalination plant to enable an increase in water allocations for other users along the Murray River.
The logic may sound appealing, but there are three good reasons why it’s not a good idea. Not only is desalination an incredibly expensive project, there are other strategies – like water pricing – that can more effectively reduce water demand.
The total storage levels for the Sydney region are running at about two-thirds full, with the desalination plant set to be turned on to supplement the water supply when capacity drops to 60 per cent, according to WaterNSW.
Melburnians are being asked to watch their water use as new figures from Melbourne Water show dam levels fell by 64 billion litres (3.5 per cent of capacity) during the 2017/18 summer. Despite rainfall around 27 per cent above average during summer 2017/18, an extremely dry February in 2018 and an increase in water use had seen storages dip over the season. Melbourne Water General Manager, Integrated Planning, Chris Williams, said storage levels were declining. “We have had a particularly dry February (2018) and when combined with slightly higher water usage, we have seen an impact on our storage levels,” Mr Williams said. As of March 2018, Melbourne’s storages were 63 per cent full with levels expected to decline further over autumn before improving during winter and spring. Melburnians are being urged to ‘Target 155’ following the summer storage dip. While Melburnians are still very water wise, Melbourne’s growing population and climate variability are putting increasing pressure on overall water use. “Water use over summer 2017/18 was up 2.5 per cent, or 33 million litres compared with the previous summer,” Mr Williams said. “Individually though, we only need to save around six litres of water per person, per day, to get back to the target of 155 litres.” “That means doing a few little things around the house like taking shorter showers and using mulch on your garden to reduce water evaporation can easily bring water use back to the desired level.” Following a very wet start to December 2017 , Melbourne’s water storage levels reached their high for summer on 13 December, at 69.7 per cent before falling to 65.0 per cent on 28 February 2018 after a dry month. Without the water supplied by the Victorian Desalination Plant in 2017, storage levels would be 3.4 per cent lower. February 2017 rainfall was 69 per ent below average with only 18mm falling around the catchments. This led to reduced streamflow into water storages – down 46 per cent on February 2017. It was even drier across Melbourne with most stations observing totals less than 10 per cent of their February average which resulted in drier parks and gardens, leading to this summer’s increased water use. (Link)