Water is essential to life, the environment, our economy and greater Melbourne’s famous liveability. The security of our water supply depends on how much we have in storage. We need to increase water storage levels to provide a buffer in times of drought and to help manage natural disasters like bushfires.
Did you know our water storage levels are under 50%? That is our lowest storage level since just after the Millennium Drought in 2010.
Because greater Melbourne is using more water than rainfall is providing, we need to continue to be innovative in the way we manage this precious resource. Melbourne Water and water retail companies are working hard with industry and government to implement initiatives to secure our water supply for now and into the future.
Watch this video for an overview.
Our water supply challenges
This is the new 'normal'.
Longer drier periods, greater temperature extremes, and less rainfall in winter and spring have reduced how much water makes it into our storages. Climate change means that stream flow into our storages is on a downward trend – 36% below the historic average and just 5% above the Millennium Drought average.
Melbourne’s population has also grown a lot in the last twenty years. That growth has been great for the jobs and the economy, but the addition of 1.4 million people to greater Melbourne since 2001 means increased challenges with managing our water supply.
Lessons from the Millennium Drought
We know from our experience during the Millennium Drought that water storage levels can drop quickly. During that time levels dropped 20% in one year alone and as much as 30% in 18 months.
On average over the last five years our storages have lost 68 billion litres per year, and without input from desalinated water we would have lost 83 billion litres per year.
The drought taught us that we need to keep our storage levels topped up to buffer against drought and ensure our households, businesses and environment all have enough water now and into the future.
How we’re taking action
We have been implementing plans to secure our water supply.
During the Millennium Drought, severe water restrictions took a great toll on our daily lives and had a lasting impact on the economy and our liveability. To avoid this level of restrictions, we are working in collaboration with water retailers to manage our water supply.
How you can take action
Target 155 litres per person per day.
Melburnians can be proud of their water conscious behaviour. The experience of the Millennium Drought taught us great water saving habits and we reduced our personal water consumption from 245 litres per day to as low as 147 litres per day.
This has risen slightly in recent years to 161 litres per person per day, so we can each do a little more to reach our target of 155 litres – a reduction of just two thirds of a bucket of water.
Simple steps like shorter showers, turning off taps when brushing your teeth or watering the garden at the right time of the day will help us meet our target.
Working together we can all continue to enjoy Melbourne’s famous lifestyle with enough water for our future.