Posted on 01. Jun, 2010 in News

Melbourne’s storages have entered winter at their highest levels since 2006 as a result of the Government’s major water projects, continued household water saving and some autumn rain.

Storages are now holding 126 billion litres more water than at the same time last year. More than half of this water comes from the Government’s water initiatives – the Sugarloaf Pipeline, the re-connection of Tarago Reservoir and the Target 155 campaign.

Premier John Brumby and Water Minister Tim Holding today released the autumn data from Melbourne Water while inspecting a $50 million project underway at Cardinia Reservoir to enable water from the desalination plant in Wonthaggi to flow into the city’s system.

“Storages are continuing to move away from the record lows of last year, to a more secure water supply for our growing city,” Mr Brumby said.

“The Government’s record investment in water infrastructure is having a significant impact. The Sugarloaf Pipeline and Tarago Reservoir reconnection, which were both delivered ahead of schedule, are adding more than 50 billion litres to our dams,” Mr Brumby said.

“It is these major water projects and the desalination plant which are our roadmap back from severe water restrictions for Melbourne households.”
Melbourne‘s storages are now at 32.7 per cent of capacity (592 billion litres) compared to 26.3 per cent (466.2 billion litres) at the start of winter last year.

Mr Holding said Melburnians had used about 21 billion litres less over the past 12 months as a result of water saving efforts following Target 155.

“Melburnians have been saving huge volumes of water over the past decade, but since Target 155 has been introduced the water saving efforts have increased even more,” he said.

“Melbourne households have met or bettered Target 155 every week for the last 12 weeks which is a fantastic effort especially as the easing of water restrictions to Stage 3 in April this year allowed more flexibility for garden watering.”

Figures released today show that between 1 March and 31 May:

  • Rainfall over major catchments was 239mm (9 per cent above average);
  • Inflows into major storages was 47 billion litres (4 per cent below average);
  • Storages dropped by 39 billion litres from 34.9 per cent full to 32.7 per cent.
  • Average consumption fell by 1 per cent to 976.8 million litres per day compared with autumn 2009.

Melbourne Water’s Managing Director, Rob Skinner, said it was normal for storages to drop in autumn but this year’s decline was less than half the average since the drought began.

“Storages dropped by 39 billion litres in autumn, which is a good result compared with the average of 94 billion litres we’ve seen since 1997,” Mr Skinner said.

“The flow-on effect of autumn rain is that the catchments are now fairly wet, which means winter rain will translate more easily into increases to storage levels.

“Storages remain under a third full and the Bureau is predicting a drier-than-average winter, so we still need to still need to save water,” added Mr Skinner.

Work is continuing on Australia’s largest desalination plant, which will provide up to a third of Melbourne’s water each year, independent of rainfall from the end of 2011.

The project underway at Cardinia Reservoir includes a 2.3 kilometre pipeline and construction of a pumping station to enable desalinated water to be pumped to Silvan Reservoir and out to households in Melbourne’s suburbs.

More information: http://www.ourwater.vic.gov.au/ 

Water Smart Gardens &  Home Rebates Scheme: http://www.ourwater.vic.gov.au/saving/home/rebates

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