A revised drought plan for south east Queensland has been launched following a second consecutive failed wet season.
Seqwater Acting Chief Executive Officer Jim Pruss today released the updated SEQ Drought Response Plan developed as part of Seqwater’s long term water plan for the region.
Mr Pruss said south east Queensland had just experienced its second dry summer in a row, with inflows less than that experienced during the Millennium Drought.
As a result the combined Grid drinking water supply dam levels were now just above 70%, the lowest levels since January 2010.
“We live in a climate of extremes from droughts to flooding rains and we need to plan accordingly to meet our water supply requirements in good times and bad,’’ Mr Pruss said.
“The connected water treatment plants and pipelines across the Water Grid, and the availability of the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme to respond to drought, means the region has more resources at its disposal to manage drought than ever before, significantly reducing the need for severe restrictions.’’
“South East Queensland’s Drought Response Plan has been updated and is ready to be enacted, if required.
Mr Pruss said a key change to the drought strategy was the introduction of a drought readiness phase to help better prepare the region for the prospect of drought.
“Based on current modeling and consumption rates, south east Queensland is another wet season away from having to consider water restrictions.
This means we have time to better prepare the community for possibility of drought, including encouraging the community to reduce their water use while the dry conditions continue.’’
Mr Pruss said to offset the impact of poor summer rainfall and low inflows, Seqwater was operating the Water Grid to help manage water supply storage levels across the region.
“The biggest single change since the Millennium Drought has been the construction of the Water Grid which allows Seqwater to move treated drinking water around the region.
This isespecially important when patchy rainfall leaves some areas with full dams, and other parts of the region with lower dam levels, as we have seen this summer,’’ he said.
Mr Pruss said the dry hot summer had also resulted in an increase in water consumption.
“We have seen consumption increase on average by 10 litres per person per day compared to last summer, to an average of 188 litres per person per day.
In some parts of the region daily consumption has climbed over 300 litres per person per day.
Baroon Pocket Dam at 46 per cent, earlier this month.
“While SEQ is not yet in a drinking water supply drought, our Grid dam levels have been falling, so it is a good time for all of us to start looking at ways we can better conserve water.
The more waterwise we can be, the better chance we have at getting to another wet season before the drought plan needs to be triggered.’’
Seqwater will continue to closely monitor weather forecasts, catchment conditions and dam levels, and operate the Water Grid as required to best mange the region’s water supply.
The drought readiness phase is triggered when combined Grid dam levels reach 70% and will involve a water efficiency campaign encouraging the community to use water wisely while the dry conditions continue.
Details of the Drought Response Plan have been released today as part of the South East Queensland Water Security Program and available at seqwater.com.au.
Tips on how to conserve water are now available at seqwater.com.au or from your water service provider.
For more information about Seqwater and its services, visit seqwater.com.au.