News in Brief

1 June, 2009 - Tim Prohasky Back

Water tank filling season begins

Melbourne Water has announced that Melbourne’s catchments have entereed their wettest months which is also great news for people who own water tanks in Melbourne.


  • Rainfall 21% below average; streamflows 42% below average
  • Storages down by 82 billion litres
  • T155 met 12 weeks in a row

Melbourne’s water storages have entered their wettest months at 26.3% after an autumn marked by low streamflows but a near-perfect record of achieving Target 155.

Storages started autumn at 30.8% and finished at 26.3%, a drop of 4.5% of total capacity (82.1 billion litres).

Most of the 177 mm of autumn rain fell during March and April, meaning the catchments began to dry out again in May. Without the follow-up rain, streamflows were limited to just 42% of the long-term average.

Melbourne Water’s Manager of Water Supply Operations, John Woodland, said the gap between rainfall and streamflows showed the long-lasting effects of a dry summer on the catchments.

“March and April were promising in terms of wetting the catchments, but the subsequent rain needed to generate runoff didn’t come in May and we’re now entering winter with storages at their lowest levels since the Thomson started to fill in 1984,” said Mr Woodland.

“Our storages are approaching a natural low-point in their annual cycle and we typically expect to see them rebound in winter and spring.”

Mr Woodland said it was important that Melburnians kept saving water ahead of the major water projects coming on line.

“Our reservoirs are holding 466 billion litres, which is a significant amount of water ahead of the major projects coming on line. But it’s important we protect that buffer by sustaining the water-saving efforts we achieved in autumn.”

The finishing touches are being made at Tarago Reservoir before it’s reconnected to Melbourne’s water supply mid-year, and the Sugarloaf Pipeline is progressing well.

As a further contingency against low inflows in winter and spring, Melbourne Water and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority are investigating the possibility of temporarily suspending some environmental flows from the Yarra and Thomson rivers to boost supplies.

Industry spokesperson for Target 155 and Managing Director of Yarra Valley Water, Tony Kelly, said Melburnians achieved the target for all but the first week of autumn, and as outdoor water use dropped in winter, the focus should be on reducing indoor consumption.

“Under Target 155 and Stage 3a restrictions, Melburnians have used less water this autumn than during the same time last year under Stage 3a alone.

“In fact, in May the average water use was just 138 litres, the lowest monthly average since the T155 campaign came into effect in December last year.

“Since Target 155 was introduced in December last year Melburnians have saved eight billion litres of water compared with the same time the previous year. Eight billion litres is enough water to supply over 49,000 homes for an entire year.

“This shows that Target 155 is really working, with households cutting back on their water use inside the home and around the garden. With cooler and wetter weather ahead, it’s inside the home where we can make the most savings.

“Together with four-minute showers, exchanging your showerhead for a water efficient model is one of the easiest things you can do to help stay below Target 155.”