The Victorian Government has placed an order for 50GL of desalinated water to be delivered in Summer 2017 to help Melbourne’s low water levels.
Melbourne’s water storages have been declining steadily for the past two years and have dropped by 152GL in the past year.
Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said, “We’ve always said the desalination plant is our insurance policy to secure our water supply and boost the amount of water available in the water grid – now it’s in Victoria’s best interests that we call on that insurance.”
“As our population continues to grow and our state faces drought, we need to secure water supplies for Victorian communities – and adding desalinated water will help us meet these challenges.”
Advice provided to the government by Melbourne Water in consultation with the three metropolitan retailers, recommended placing a water order of 50 gigalitres.
The advice is based on a detailed analysis that considers current water levels in the storages, the likelihood of low inflows, dry conditions in the short-term, and forecast demand.
Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville, said, “The Government has responded to the advice of Melbourne’s water corporations and will place an order to help provide Melbourne and our region’s water security.
“We’re taking action so that kids don’t have to play on rock hard ovals, so gardens and sporting ovals are green and will ensure a secure water supply for schools, hospitals and homes from Melbourne to Ballarat.”
The order will increase the amount of water that could be moved through the water grid – which assists water security for Ballarat where storage levels currently sit at 52 per cent, Geelong which is sitting at below 40 per cent and other regional communities.
This critical move will improve water certainty for families from Melbourne, to Geelong and Ballarat. It will mean certainty for businesses, for sporting grounds and local communities.
The cost of the order will add $12 a year to the average metropolitan water bill, however a Melbourne Water proposal being considered by the Essential Services Commission could reduce water bills by more than that amount.
With the ongoing pressures of population growth and climate change, as well as the current dry conditions, the Government will also reactivate the Target 155 water savings campaign.
Target 155 will include a reminder that permanent water use rules remain in place in Melbourne, and cities and towns across the State, detail on water bills about water use and how it compares to the 155 target, promoting the Schools Water Efficiency Program, and working with industry, local government and community groups about using water wisely.
To assist those in Regional Victoria, the Victorian Government is considering options to reverse the North-South Pipeline and will have more to say on that proposal later in 2016.
Outside the water grid, water corporations assist drought affected areas through ensuring access to standpipes and water carting services.
The Government is now actively examining options to expand the grid to connect communities such as Wedderburn.
The Government is also soon to release a Water Plan which will help ensure Victoria is best prepared to deal with the challenges posed by changing rainfall patterns, climate change and rapid population growth.