The Victorian Government has ordered 15GL of water from the Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi.
Independent expert advice from Melbourne water corporations recommended a 15GL order – 110GL lower than the 2021 order. This means that Melbourne household water bills will remain stable for the year ahead.
Melbourne’s water bills are among the lowest in Australia. Like household bills, water bills for businesses are also expected to remain stable as a result of the order.
While the current La Nina event saw rainfall at above average levels in Melbourne’s catchments in 2021, with the impact of climate change, extended dry periods will come – and storages need to be kept at healthy levels.
Melbourne has experienced below average inflows to the storages in 16 of the last 20 years.
This order will ensure our water supply is managed responsibly and keep storages at the levels required to avoid damaging water restrictions – like the ones seen in the 2000s.
Melburnians currently use 50 to 70GL more water per year than what flows into our storages, depending on rainfall. The desalination plant has supplied around 24 per cent of our storage capacity since the plant was turned on in 2016. Without it, storage levels would be below 62 per cent.
The decision to order desalinated water is made each year based on yearly weather changes and expert advice from water authorities.
Regular desalinated water orders are a normal part of Melbourne’s drinking water supply, supplementing storages and providing an adequate buffer in the event of severe drought. They also support surrounding regions, including South Gippsland, Barwon and Geelong.
To ensure Melbourne and its regions can continue to access a secure water supply into the future, South East Water has set out a 50-year plan to sustainably manage our water resources as part of the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy.
In addition to desalinated water, this strategy will ease demand on our drinking supplies by investing in water efficiency and saving, recycled water and stormwater reuse and campaigns such as Target 155 to encourage households to reduce their water use.
Victorian Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said, “This year’s smaller order of 15GL means we can maintain secure supplies and keep water bills stable – so Melbourne’s water bills remain equal lowest in Australia.
“Demand for water is already outstripping supply in Melbourne – the desalination plant keeps our storages healthy and ensures we have enough water to meet this demand as our state grows.
“Everyone has a role to play in saving water into the future and we’re investing in projects that increase the use of recycled water and stormwater to conserve our precious drinking supply.”