The Andrews Labor Government today announced that the water order from the Victorian Desalination Plant for 2017/8 will be 15 GL.
This means the Government is not ordering water above the 15GL minimum order, which has been set for the next three years to guarantee continued water security and better plant management.
The water order is based on advice from Melbourne Water in consultation with the three metropolitan water retailers. It will further restore Melbourne’s storage levels and provide an ongoing buffer against drought.
Importantly, Melbourne households will not face additional charges on their water bills for the 15 GL order or the 50GL order made for 2016-17.
These orders will instead be funded from the sale of surplus Renewable Energy Certificates, which were previously purchased to offset power used by the plant with green energy, and were not fully utilised as no water orders were made until 2016.
Despite rainfall and inflows from the desalination plant, storages declined for 24 weeks in a row, between 25 November 2016 and 11 May 2017. Melbourne storages are now 105 GL lower than this time two years ago.
Melbourne’s water storages have never fully recovered from the millennium drought. For example, the Thomson Reservoir, which represents 60 per cent of Melbourne’s storage capacity, has not been full in 20 years.
The 50 GL desalination order is starting to flow into our storages, and it means our storage levels are 1.2 per cent higher than what they would have otherwise been.
The desalination plant is a key part of the grid – helping to avoid the social and economic costs of water restrictions on households, businesses and farmers.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“The Government has responded to the advice of Melbourne’s water corporations and will place an order of 15 GL in for the next financial year to help restore Melbourne’s buffer against severe drought.”
“The plant was not built to be turned on just when our water supply reached critical levels. Instead its aim is to make sure that our water supply doesn’t fall to those levels in the first place.”
“No one’s water bills will increase due to this water order. There will be no additional charges for this year’s water orders – or the minimum water orders of 15 GL for the next three years – passed on to consumers.”