The Andrews Labor Government will order 125 gigalitres of water from the Desalination Plant for the 2019/20 year to boost storages after an extremely dry spring and summer.
This order is the largest ever and is necessary to prevent Melbourne’s water storages dropping to a point where they post a significant risk to water security.
The decision comes as Melbourne’s water storage levels drop to less than 55 per cent- without the 4.2 per cent already delivered by Desal, levels would be down to almost 50 per cent.
With below average rainfall and hot, dry conditions, storages can drop by as much as 20 percent in a year and we have not had levels this low since 2011, just after the Millennium Drought.
The Labor Government has worked hard to minimise the cost to households of this critical order, over the course of the year it will amount to just $10 more – meaning Melbourne will continue to have the lowest water prices of any capital city.
Melbourne’s water storages have had below average rainfall inflows in 18 out of the past 20 years, while the city has experienced a significant population growth of 1.4 million. Climate change also means lower rainfall.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest three-month seasonal climate outlook also predicts above average autumn temperatures for Melbourne, with below-average rainfall set to continue.
The plant is a vital part the water grid and provides water security to households and businesses in and around Melbourne. This order will help avoid the need for harsh water restrictions.
The plant can supply up to one-third of Melbourne’s annual water needs, and the rest is from our water storages – the desal is critical so we have levels which can cope with an emergency, such as bushfires in the catchments.
The Labor Government has also bolstered water supplies in Geelong and across the Barwon region with more than a billion litres of water to flow from Melbourne over the next three months down the 59-kilometre pipeline.
South Gippsland is now benefitting from the Desalination Plant thanks to the completion of the Lance Creek Water Connection Project. This has boosted water security throughout Korumburra, Nyora, Loch and Poowong by linking the region to the water grid and the Desalination Plant for the first time.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“An order of this size is crucial to securing water supply after a dry summer – in conditions like these we need to make sure storages don’t reach critically low levels.”
“We do everything we can to minimise the cost to households – but we can’t risk a smaller order and see a return to Millennium Drought conditions.”
“Everyone can do their bit to help save water and permanent water saving rules are in place – and we’re delivering stormwater and recycling initiatives to ensure water security for Melbourne.”