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Australia Calls to cut south-east Queensland water use as Wivenhoe Dam hits its lowest level in a decade

00:12  10 march  2021
00:12  10 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Almost a decade has passed since South East Queensland experienced extreme drought conditions, but the region's water authority has warned falling dam levels could see water restrictions return as early as next year. Key points: Wivenhoe Dam is down to just 53 per cent, the lowest level since the (ABC News: Giulio Saggin). The average South East Queenslander is currently using about 186 litres of water per day but that number is expected to climb coming into the warmer months. Ms Walker said there was still "a way to go" but if dam levels continued to plunge, water restrictions would need

South East Queensland 's largest dam has fallen below 50 per cent, its lowest level in a decade . The region's combined dam levels are at 61 per cent and without decent summer rain, the region could be on water restrictions by the middle of next year. The Gold Coast de-salination plant usually provides about 20 per cent of the region's water supply, but that will be ramped up to a third over summer, the most it ' s ever been relied upon. Wivenhoe Dam (Dean Saffron). The plant was built during the Millenium drought, when levels dropped to 20 per cent. Mandatory water restrictions will be

a body of water: Hopes are being pinned on autumn rain to top up water supplies in Wivenhoe Dam. (ABC News: Chris Healy) © Provided by ABC News Hopes are being pinned on autumn rain to top up water supplies in Wivenhoe Dam. (ABC News: Chris Healy)

South-east Queensland's largest dam has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade, prompting a call for residents to reduce their water consumption.

On Tuesday, Wivenhoe Dam, west of Brisbane, was at 36.2 per cent capacity, the lowest level since 2009, according to Mike Foster, from water authority Seqwater.

"That's the result of a couple of back-to-back effectively failed wet seasons where we saw some good rainfall in our coastal dams, but Somerset, Wivenhoe and North Pine Dam — our big central dams — unfortunately that rainfall has missed those storages," Mr Foster said.

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Queensland 's combined dam level capacity has fallen to 60 per cent in the south - east of the state for the first time in 11 years, according to Seqwater. Key points: Seqwater orders production at the Tugun desalination plant on the Gold Coast to be increased. Seqwater will not look at water restrictions until dam levels drop to the combined 50pc capacity. During the hot, dry spring, water usage has crept up to 200 litres per day per person. External relations manager Mike Foster said it was at the lowest level since the Millennium drought broke back in 2008 and the region's largest dam , Wivenhoe Dam north

In South East Queensland , the Wivenhoe Dam filled to a level equivalent to 191% of its supply capacity on 11 January 2011.[16][76] Although the dam can hold the equivalent of 225% of its supply capacity, storage exceeding 100% is required to be progressively released through the floodgates to restore capacity to mitigate future flood events.[19][77. ][78] Brisbane experienced its wettest December since 1859.[32] Wyaralong Dam , near Beaudesert, had recently been completed and was praised[79] for mitigating flooding in downstream Logan, having exceeded 80% of its capacity.[80].

He said inflows to Wivenhoe Dam were critical to keep drinking water flowing to the state's most populous region.

"Wivenhoe is by far our biggest drinking water storage, so Wivenhoe alone can account for almost 40-50 per cent of our overall drinking water storage," Mr Foster said.

The combined level of all south-east Queensland dams is sitting at 56.4 per cent.

Based on the current rate of usage, the region's dams could hit 50 per cent capacity by September.

If that happens, water restrictions would be considered, including limits on outside cleaning, watering gardens and topping up swimming pools.

"Given where our dam levels are, we're absolutely encouraging the community to look at ways they can conserve and reduce their water use."

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In South East Queensland , the Wivenhoe Dam filled to a level equivalent to 191% of its supply capacity on 11 January 2011.[58] Brisbane experienced its wettest December since 1859.[22] Wyaralong Dam , near Beaudesert, had recently been completed and is receiving praise[59] for reducing flooding in downstream Logan, having exceeded 80% of its capacity.[60]. The impact on our friends in Queensland is something that New Zealanders feel very deeply, and we just want to make sure that we're in a position to offer them support across the range of services that we have here in New Zealand.

Right now, each person in south-east Queensland is using 170-175 litres each day — around 20-25 litres more than dam managers would like.

Some smaller Scenic Rim communities are already having to limit their water usage.

Water grid put to the test

Mr Foster said the construction of the south-east Queensland water grid had given authorities "more weapons in our arsenal" since the Millennium Drought, which ran from about 2001 to 2009.

The south-east Queensland water grid is a network of pipelines connecting the region's dams, water treatment plants, a desalination plant and reservoirs.

It enables water managers to move drinking supplies around the system.

"We've got the water grid, we've got the Gold Coast desalination plant and we've certainly got the Western Corridor Recycled Water scheme and combined, that certainly puts us in a better position than we've ever been to manage through drought," Mr Foster said.

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South - east Queenslanders are being urged to curb their water use as the region hurtles towards restrictions after dam levels fell to a combined 11-year low . Dam levels have dropped below 60 per cent capacity on Tuesday - the lowest level since the Millennium Drought broke in 2008 - while the region's biggest drinking water source, Wivenhoe Dam , fell under 48 per cent. Watch the video above. Seqwater says it will wait for the dam levels to sit at half full before considering imposing water restrictions, with hopes that won't happen until mid-2020. But Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate says the

Australia - Southeast Queenslanders have been promised they will never again face the extreme water restrictions they have endured through the long drought. Deputy Premier Paul Lucas said today that while "we can't control the rainfall we can Recent rain is expected to lift the combined level of the region's three dams , Wivenhoe , Somerset and North Pine to 40 per cent this afternoon - the trigger for tough level six water restrictions to be relaxed. Premier Anna Bligh says that means residents - who have endured Level 6 restrictions - will be able to use town water to wash their cars and hose their gardens as

"The way we're operating the water grid at the moment, we're effectively moving as much water as we can from the Gold Coast and as much from the Sunshine Coast to really try and preserve those big central dams, in particular Wivenhoe," he said.

If dam levels continue to dwindle, purified wastewater could be used to top up drinking supplies for the first time, through the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme.

But Mr Foster said that move would need state government approval and it could take years for the recycling plants to start operating.

"The Western Corridor is made up of three purified recycled plants, to get all three of them all up and running it'd take us a couple of years.

"There's a really strict verification, validation process, we need to work really closely with Queensland Health and the water supply regulator," he said.

Recycled water is currently being used to supply the Tarong and Swanbank power stations.

Hopes pinned on autumn rain

The Bureau of Meteorology said summer rain had been below average in parts of south-east Queensland, including the Wivenhoe Dam catchment, even though there was a La Nina system in place.

"It is quite a weak La Nina and we haven't seen that same widespread, above average rain fall, as we saw during the 2010 to 2011 La Nina," said climatologist Felicity Gamble.

But Ms Gamble said there are "optimistic" signs for more rain from March to May.

"Overall, for autumn, we are seeing increased chances, so around 70 per cent chance, of getting above median autumn rainfall," Ms Gamble said.


Video: More storms batter WA towns (9News.com.au)

The megadrought parching 77 percent of the Western US, explained .
Lack of rain and rising temperatures threaten to decrease water supplies and bring more wildfires this summer and in the years to comeWestern states are already facing water shortages, and with the National Weather Service projecting that the dry stretch will continue, the problems that accompany droughts are likely to pile up heading into this summer.

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