Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 in News

Victorian families, farmers, sports clubs and businesses have entered spring with some of the best water conditions in the past decade, because of good rain, water saving efforts and the delivery of key Victorian Government water projects.

From today, water restrictions in Melbourne and Geelong have been eased from Stage 3 to Stage 2 and water allocations for farmers in Victoria’s north have increased substantially.

Flows into Victoria’s rivers have also increased, including the Murray, Goulburn, Yarra, Thomson and Loddon, helping to improve river health and providing a boost to tourism.  

In Ballarat today to turn on a new pipeline to help fill the city’s iconic Lake Wendouree, Premier John Brumby and Water Minister Tim Holding released statistics for key urban and regional water storages which show Melbourne’s storages at their highest level since 2006.

“Victorian families have been doing their bit to use water more efficiently and the Victorian Government has taken the tough decisions to meet the challenges of reduced water availability from 13 years of drought and climate change,” Mr Brumby said.

“Projects like the Goldfields Superpipe, the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline and the Sugarloaf Pipeline are providing more water for households, farmers and stressed rivers across Victoria.

“The big relief will come from the Desalination Plant which will turn sea water into drinking water and the Food Bowl Modernisation Project which is upgrading leaky, old irrigation systems in northern Victoria.

“Victorian families, businesses, farmers, sports clubs and community groups can now plan for the future with confidence that we will have enough water for farming, for watering our gardens and footy ovals and for our regional industries and communities.”

The latest statistics from Victoria’s water authorities show:

  • Melbourne’s water storages are now at their highest level since 2006 after increasing from 32.7 per cent to 41.3  per cent over winter – an increase of 156.6 billion litres;
  • Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo’s water storages are holding around double the volume of water they held at same time last year;
  • More than half of regional Victorian cities and towns are now off water restrictions with over 280 off restrictions including Shepparton, Yea, Hamilton and Bairnsdale – while 239 towns remain on restrictions;
  • Farmers in northern Victoria have had their highest water allocation for this time of year in over five years; and
  • Rivers like the Murray and Goulburn are having their best flows since 2005.


Over winter, Melbourne’s storages received 316.6 millimetres of rainfall (3.5 per cent below average) and 177 billion litres of inflows – which is precisely the long term average.

Average daily water use in Melbourne for winter was 131 litres per person per day, down from 137 litres per person per day during winter last year.

The Sugarloaf Pipeline and the Tarago Reservoir have added more than 66 billion litres of water to storages. From the end of next year the desalination plant will start supplying up to 150 days of water a year.

The easing of water restrictions means for the first time in four years, households Melbourne and Geelong will now be able to:

  • Water gardens at anytime using a trigger nozzle or watering can;
  • Wash cars at home with either a bucket or a high pressure, water saving hose;
  • Water all community sportsgrounds including football ovals and soccer pitches; and
  • Apply for a 28-day exemption to water warm season grass lawns.


Mr Holding said Target 155 would continue under Stage 2 water restrictions.

“While we are providing more flexibility for households, we want people to continue to use water wisely we are encouraging everyone to keep to Target 155,” Mr Holding said.

Mr Holding said Goulburn-Murray Water had today announced a further increase in water allocations for farmers in northern Victoria.

“After years of low water availability because of the drought it looks likely that with average rainfall farmers in northern Victoria could get a 100 per cent water allocation,” he said.  

“Farmers are also benefiting from the Food Bowl Modernisation Project which will also deliver more water for farmers and rivers in the region.”

Major storage levels in Victoria

Town Storages (%) September 2010 Storages (%) September 2009 Low point (%) Water restrictions
Melbourne 41.3 27.9 25.6 (June 2009) Stage 2
Geelong 55.9 26.9 14.2 (May 2007) Stage 2
Ballarat 41.1 19.0 7.4 (April 2008) Stage 1
Bendigo and district 53.1 18.6 6.5 (June 2007) Stage 3
Morwell/ Traralgon 99.6 73.4 58 (June 2007) No restrictions
Lake Eildon (dam) 43.4 20.9 5.3 (April 2007) Goulburn Valley towns on no restrictions

*Victorian towns not on water restrictions must follow Permanent Water Saving Rules

Number of Victorian Towns on Water Restrictions

Water Restrictions Stage 4 Stage 4 exemptions Stage 3a Stage 3 Stage 2 Stage 1 Total
September 2010 7 5 0 49 76 102 239
September 2009 42 105 19 53 32 77 328


Approximately 280 towns are not on water restrictions.

For more information about water restrictions, water storage levels or farmers allocations visit www.ourwater.vic.gov.au

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