Emergency Contact
The realities of rain

The realities of rain

Could you imagine South East Queensland without water? It’s a future no one wants to see. Our climate is changing and our population is growing. So how do we make sure we have the water we need, and don’t run out?

The dams we use for drinking water have served us well, but they count on rain falling where and when we need it.

So, if we can’t always count on the rain, what do we do?

The conversation starts here. Take a look around, get involved and let us know what you'd like your water future to look like.

Hide    Show   
Home What We're Doing The realities of rain

Realities of Rain is starting the conversation with South East Queensland communities about what we do when we can’t always count on the rain.

Why are we talking about rain?

Up until now, we’ve relied on dams for our water supply – but these count on rain falling where and when we need it.

Dams store water - they don’t make it. With the climate changing and our population growing, just having dams is not going to be enough for the future.

No one wants to see a South East Queensland without enough water to live, work and play the way we want to.

That’s why we’re planning now - and we want the community to be part of the plan we’re creating.

  • Water Wise Updates
  • Media
  • Key documents
  • Globe illustration

    Realities of Rain - in any language!

    Seqwater is acutely aware that the conversation we need to have with South East Queensland communities about planning for the future and the realities of rain may need to happen in languages other than English.

    As a first step, we have translated five of our key publications into Hindi, Malay, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Spanish (Latin American) and Chinese (simplified). Our research showed these were the six most commonly spoken languages other than English in South East Queensland.

    The translated documents can be found in the Documents section. We look forward to exploring new ways to share these resources with communities.

    Drought illustration

    The Reality of Planning

    Chennai, India has become the latest city to face a water shortage. With a population bigger than Melbourne and Sydney combined, the city has already reached 'Day Zero', where taps run dry.

    Water levels in its four major reservoirs fell to one-hundredth of what they were this time last year, forcing millions of people to line up at water trucks to fill containers of water.

    From Sao Paulo to Bangalore, Cape Town to Cairo, water authorities are grappling with how to manage water supplies amongst a drying climate and population growth.

    That's why Seqwater is planning now for your water future, to make sure there is enough water for everyone to live, work and play.

    Thumbnail Sunday sesh rain

    We can't always count on the rain...so please use water wisely!

    As we head into winter, which is usually our dry season, with less than average rainfall over summer we've updated our Realities of Rain campaign to ask people to use water wisely.

    While we're not in drought, it makes sense to start preparing for the possibility and remind people to start doing those simple water wise tasks!

    • Water the garden before 8am and after 4pm
    • Use a pool cover
    • Check and fix for leaks around home, school and work
    • Don't leave the tap running when cleaning your teeth or shaving
    • Use a good mulch
    • Do full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher

    Check out more water wise advice on the Seqwater website

     

    Wivenhoe Dam

    Preparing for a dry winter

    Did you see the recent ABC 7.30 report on rainfall and water storage in Australia’s capital cities? Across the country water storage levels in our capital cities’ dams are falling and limited rainfall is exacerbating this trend. In Melbourne dams are sitting at 49.7%, Adelaide’s dams are at 42.3% and Perth at 40.1%. Perth gets almost 5a0% of it’s water supply from desalination and its aquifers are recharged using purified recycled water. In Sydney water storage levels are at 53.8% and level one water restrictions will commence on Saturday 1 June 2019 for the first time in almost a decade.

    In South East Queensland our dam water storage is currently sitting at 69% and we’re preparing for the possibility of drought as we move into our drier winter months. For the past two months we’ve been asking you to be waterwise and consider your water usage in and around the home. Positively we’ve seen the average daily residential water consumption drop from a record summer high of 239L per person to the current consumption of 162L per person. If we can continue to be mindful of our water use as we move through winter this will prolong our water supply storage and delay the need for other measures.

    We know, however, that we can’t count on the rain to fall when and where we need it. At Seqwater we’re prepared for this reality and our Water Security Program is our plan to provide South East Queensland with safe and reliable drinking water even in times of drought. Using the Seqwater Grid and having assets such as the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme provide us with alternative drinking water sources when we can’t count on the rain.

    Learn more about how we’re planning for our water future here: https://www.seqwater.com.au/waterforlife

    Get waterwise advice for in and around your home here: https://www.seqwater.com.au/waterwise

    MD water usage

    Lessons from the Millennium Drought

    Here in South East Queensland we are planning now so we can face what the future may bring. We know that with a changing climate, population growth and a water system heavily reliant on regular rainfall, that we need a plan for the future.

    As with all good plans, we’ve looked to the past to prepare. We don’t have to go far back in our history for lessons. One of our biggest teachers on how to manage our water was the Millennium Drought.

    It was the worst drought in a hundred years, and we learnt quickly that solely counting on rain to supply the region with drinking water could quickly get us into trouble when the rain stops falling.

    We dealt with the lack of rain in two ways:

    Firstly, as a community South East Queenslanders played their part and dramatically reduced their consumption. Before the drought average water use was 300 litres of water per person per day. During the drought we reduced our water usage to as low as 120 litres of water per person per day by being waterwise around our homes, gardens and businesses.

    The second thing we did was build the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and purified recycled water treatment plants so that we didn’t have to always rely on rain.

    We also learnt that building infrastructure takes time and money and when you need to build quickly, it will cost more. So it’s important for us to plan now.

    The Seqwater Water Security Program is our plan for the next 30 years. It forecasts demand, our supply capability and identifies any new infrastructure we might need to meet our communities’ needs.

    Learn more about the plan here.

    Sign up for updates here.

    people pyramid

    Planning for the future

    South East Queensland's population is predicted to increase by more than 2 million people in the next twenty years. 

    Check out our Population Infographic

    We are planning for this increase in population and the effects of climate change through our Water Security Program.

    New water sources will inevitably be needed in the future and no single option, such as a new dam, desalination plant, rainwater tank or stormwater harvesting scheme, on their own, is likely to meet the region’s needs. We will need a combination of options.

    Each option and combination of options has advantages and disadvantages that we need to consider and make trade-offs to make the right choices for South East Queensland. Check out the video page for short videos on water source options. Understanding what each option involves means you can help us make decisions for South East Queensland's water future.

    Camping scene

    You can always count on long weekend rain!

    You can always count on rain when it's inconvenient - long weekends, school holidays - even on your wedding day! South East Queensland has experienced some decent rain recently - particularly on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, which means dams in these areas are full or nearly full. Our combined water grid dam levels remain at 70%, so we will still need to be waterwise and prepare for the possibility of drought.

     

    Waterwise gardening

    Drought readiness - you can't always count on the rain!

    It's no secret it's been a hot, dry summer.

    While drought is not inevitable, with the combined level of our drinking water dams hovering at 70%, it is time to start preparing ourselves - and our homes, gardens and pools - for the possibility of a drought.

    What can I do?

    • Use mulch or compost on your garden to improve the soil and retain moisture
    • Reconsider when and how much to water your lawn and gardens. Aim to avoid the heat of the day. Can some plants handle a little less watering?
    • Check if your shower heads, taps, toilets and other appliances are water efficient. Choose water efficient products with a high-water efficiency rating. Do full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher.

    • Use a pool cover and check your pool for leaks

    • Don't leave the tap running e.g. when shaving, brushing teeth, washing fruit and vegetables
    • Check and fix leaks around the home.

    For more details check out seqwater.com.au/waterwise or the waterwise videos on this site.

    Timeline Pipes

    The Reality of Sharing Water

    It may seem strange that we are talking about preparing for drought when our drinking water dams levels are at 70% and some dams are even spilling! But the nature of South East Queensland's climate is some areas can receive lots of rain while others get none. We have a system to transfer treated water around the region so we can help each other out during dry times.

    What you told us

    What you told us

    At the end of 2018, we spoke to residents of Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa in a series of deliberative engagement forums.

    We recruited 120 people across the region and asked them to share their thoughts and opinions on how they value water and their current knowledge of how water works in South East Queensland.

    We then provided information about how water might be managed in the future - including desalination, purified recycled water, decentralised schemes (like capturing and reusing stormwater) and things like water restrictions and daily water use targets.

    You can read a summary of what the communities told us here:

    We are currently holding forums in Logan, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast, and will also hold forum in Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley and Redlands in the latter half of 2019.

    Why dams can take longer to fill after dry spells

    The Reality of Rain After a Hot and Dry Summer

    So over the past week we've had some downpours and some places in South East Queensland have already received their average monthly rainfall for the entire month!

    So why didn't our dam levels rise very much? (They went up 0.8%. At current consumption this is about two weeks' of water supply).

    Check out our below, but in short, when the ground dries out during hot and dry weather, it takes more rain to generate run-off into our dams.

    Baroon Pocket Dam at 46 percent capacity

    Record water use over summer

    South East Queensland’s water use is at a record high following a hot and dry summer.

    January’s average water use was the highest since the Millennium Drought broke more than a decade ago.

    South East Queensland’s water use is at a record high following a hot and dry summer.

    January’s average water use was the highest since the Millennium Drought broke more than a decade ago.

    Water use peaked at an average of 239 litres per person per day, an increase of almost 70 litres a day extra than the average 170 litres per person per day since the Millennium Drought broke.

    And while it's not hard to see why water use jumps when the weather is hot and dry, it's an important reminder to be water wise as we move into the typically drier months of the year and as our drinking water dam levels edge towards 70%, our trigger to begin the 'drought readiness' phase. More about drought readiness

    Our top water wise tips

    1. Water the grass and garden before 10am and after 4pm - avoid the heat of the day when evaporation is at its worst
    2. Check for leaks - many leaks are underground so you may need to use your water meter to check for leaks at home and in your irrigation system.
    3. A good mulch will help your plants retain water and reduce weeds that also compete for water.
    4. Use a pool cover on your pool to reduce evaporation
    5. Do full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher
    water level

    Why can’t we pump all this water south?

    North and North West Queensland have been hit hard recently by floods. Townsville received their usual yearly average rainfall in a week.

    When it’s so dry here in South East Queensland, a lot of people think there must be a way we can transport water from areas where there is too much to areas where there is too little.

    Generally water is sourced and treated locally, as this is the most economical option, but South East Queensland can pump water to drier areas if needed. We call this the SEQ Water Grid. We can move treated water around the region using more than 600kms of pipelines. The grid is designed to move water from one part of the region to storage reservoirs in another to take pressure off local supplies during dry periods or transfer drinking water from one area to another when a local treatment plant is offline for maintenance. While we cannot supply all of the region’s water supply without local rainfall, the water grid can help move some water to drier parts of the region.

    Pumping water from north to south Queensland would be similar to the grid but on a much bigger scale. At the moment, with the technology available to us, the costs of pumping and storing the water such long distances make such schemes uneconomic, compared to desalination and recycled water.

    We will continue to monitor and investigate new transport and storage methods but for the moment, our plan for South East Queensland’s water future is to encourage everyone to be water efficient, wisely use the SEQ Water Grid and plan well for future infrastructure.

    Camping scene

    What is Realities of Rain?

    We're starting a conversation with South East Queensland communities, about what we do when we can't always count on the rain.

    It’s been fairly dry over summer, and our lawns and plants are starting to feel the pinch.

    You can count on it to rain when you don’t want it to: there’s wedding day rain, long weekend rain and school holiday rain! What you can't count on is rain when we need it, where we need it.

    So Seqwater is planning for those times we can't count on the rain, and we want you to be involved.

    How? There's four simple things you can do to become involved:

    • Register for Realities of Rain e-news
    • Book a realities of rain presentation - we're happy to come and talk to you
    • Take the Water Knowledge survey - you can find it on the tab next to Water Wise News.
    • Be water wise - while there are no conservation measures or water restrictions currently in place, there are some simple things we can do to be more water efficient around the home, school and work. Check out the Videos for our top two water saving tips!
    • Start a conversation with your kids, family and friends about water in your community. Do you know where your water comes from? How is it treated?

    We'll be talking to communities in the Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Logan from now until Easter about what they want their water future to look like.

    crystal ball

    The Reality of Your Water Future

    What is the Realities of Rain?

    The reality is we can’t count on the rain to fall when we need it and where we need it, so we’re planning for our water future.

    Explore the Realities of Rain hub for everything you need to know so you can be a part of planning – our interesting fact sheets, videos and infographics will explain all you need to know about the realities of:

    Our water sources – such as dams, desalination, decentralised schemes and purified recycled water

    Our environment - such as drought, climate change and floods.

    Our contribution – such as the Water Grid, how we plan for the future and how we can all save water.

    We’ll be continuing the conversation about the reality of rain and our water future around South East Queensland for the rest of the year and into 2019.

    Interested in hearing more? Book a Realities of Rain presentation here.

    Recycled water symbol

    The Reality of Purified Recycled Water

    When rain doesn’t fall when and where we need it, we must look to other sources for our drinking water.

    The Queensland Government built three advanced water treatments plants to produce recycled water in 2008 during the Millennium Drought – one of the worst droughts in 100 years.

    When rain doesn’t fall when and where we need it, we must look to other sources for our drinking water.

    The Queensland Government built three advanced water treatments plants to produce recycled water in 2008 during the Millennium Drought – one of the worst droughts in 100 years.

    The plants are not currently producing water for drinking but will be restarted under our Drought Response Plan. We will begin bringing the plants back online when the combined levels of our drinking water dams reach 60% capacity.

    So what is purified recycled water and how do we produce it? Check out our fact sheet and videos to find out more!

    Footy field illustration

    The Reality of Decentralised Schemes

    The name may sound different – but we’ve all heard of decentralised schemes. You would know them as rainwater tanks, re-using stormwater and recycling water for non-drinking uses such as irrigation.

    These schemes provide fit-for-purpose water for localised uses – but not for drinking. These schemes can reduce demand on the bulk water supply system, by providing water for things such as watering sports fields, flushing toilets and industrial use, that normally drinking water would be used for.

    But the costs and benefits of proposed decentralised schemes need to be carefully weighed up. Some schemes ended up being decomissioned because there were higher operational and maintenance costs than originally anticipated, complexity in managing schemes and onerous regulatory requirements.

    Check out our video and fact sheet for more information.

    five ways to save water

    The Reality of Desalination

    When you can’t count on the rain to fall when and where you need it, you need to start thinking of alternative sources of water.

    During the Millennium Drought, the Queensland Government built the Gold Coast Desalination Plant – a facility that can turn seawater into drinking water. 

    The desalination plant runs in ‘hot standby’ mode – where we run it once, sometimes twice a week, to keep everything in good working order. We ramp up production during times of flood and drought, or when other water treatment plants are offline for maintenance.

    There are desalination plants in other states too – Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Adelaide all have desalination plants.

    So how does it work? How much does it cost? How does desalination impact the environment?

    Check out our fact sheet and FAQs for all you need to know about ‘desal’!

    Still have questions? Ask us anything using the comments box below and we'll try to get back to you asap.

     

    Use a water saving trigger nozzle when watering your garden

    The Reality of Saving Water

    The reality of not being able to count on it to rain when and where we need it to, means being ready to adapt our water use in times of drought and flood.

    South East Queenslanders have already done this during the Millennium Drought – we more than halved our water usage and it has not climbed back up to those levels since.

    No matter where you are in the region, it's important we develop good water habits so we have enough to meet future demand.

    But how do you do this?

    Check out our water saving videos or share your best water saving tip ideas in the comments section below.

     

    Saving water in the garden

     

    Saving water in the bathroom

     

    Saving water in the kitchen and laundry

    Person with clipboard

    The Reality of the Plan

    We’ve been talking a lot of the realities of rain – that we can’t count on it to fall when and where we need it – and that we need to plan for our water future.

    So what does ‘the plan’ look like?

    Our Water Security Program is our plan to provide South East Queensland with drinking water over the next 30 years. This includes planning for extreme weather — both flood and drought.

    Looking so far ahead means our plan has to be adaptive – balancing demand (how much water communities use), supply (how much water we can source, treat and transport) and the operation of our water grid (how we transfer water and what sources we use) so we can provide water for life.

    You can read a summary of the Water Security Program or check out the whole program.

    Check out your local plan:

    Planning your water future - Sunshine Coast

    Planning your water future - Scenic Rim

    We’ll be releasing other region plans soon.

    Water Grid

    The Reality of the Water Grid

    In South East Queensland, we count on our key drinking water dams to provide us with water to live, work and play. The SEQ Water Grid means we can move water around the region, which is especially important if one part of the region is experiencing an unusual dry spell, while another has enjoyed good rainfall.

    We saw this in the summer of 2016-17, when low rainfall in the north-east of the region left Baroon Pocket Dam, on the Sunshine Coast, and North Pine Dam, in Brisbane’s north, at about half their capacity. So we used the water grid to supplement Sunshine Coast water supply with treated water from Brisbane – usually destined for Brisbane’s northern suburbs - and increased production at our largest water treatment plants at Mount Crosby (near Ipswich) to supplement drinking water to Brisbane’s north.

    Check out our Water Grid video and fact sheet for more information.

    Flood

    The Reality of Flood

    We can’t always count on the rain to stop falling when we want it to. As North Queensland experienced record floods in February 2019, South East Queensland had just endured one of its driest January's on record.

    Floods are a part of the climate in South East Queensland, and just as we plan for droughts, we have plans in place for when there are floods, too.

    Find out more about flood mitigation by reading our fact sheet and checking out the video of how we operate two of our gated dams, Wivenhoe and Somerset.

    Climate change

    The Reality of Climate Change

    We all know South East Queensland’s climate can vary – from storms and floods, to droughts and heatwaves. The climate has already changed and will continue to change – and SEQ will experience more extreme weather as a result.
     
    This is just one of the factors we need to take into consideration when planning for South East Queensland’s water future. We’ve already had a taste of this when the dams on the Sunshine Coast – normally our most reliable – experienced an unprecedented two wet seasons in a row with well below average rainfall.
     
    Although our Water Grid supplemented water supplies on the coast to slow the drawdown on the local dams, and eventually replenishing rains arrived - it brought home that without a climate resilient source, like a desalination plan or water treatment plant that can recycle water, the Sunshine Coast is vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
     
    That’s why we’re planning to have a new water source on the Sunshine Coast in the next 15 to 20 years.
    Check out our Climate Change Fact Sheet and Infographic for more information, or leave your climate change question on our discussion forum.
    Drought

    The Reality of Drought

    I love a sunburnt country…a land of sweeping plains… of ragged mountain ranges… of droughts and flooding rains’ is a familiar refrain to many of us.
     
    South East Queensland has a climate of extremes – from storms and floods, to heatwaves and droughts.
    The reality is that another drought will happen in South East Queensland.
    While we are one region, dry conditions may persist in a part of our region – such as right now, in the Lockyer Valley, while others enjoy healthy dam levels – such as the Gold Coast.
     
    We may need to tailor our operational response to particular sub-regions, given the combinations of water sources they have and the ability of the SEQ Water Grid to move water to that sub-region.
     
    CASE STUDY: SUNSHINE COAST
    Our focus was drawn to the northern sub-region in 2017 after it experienced a second failed wet season in 2016-17, which was unusual. The two main major storages in the northern sub-region are Baroon Pocket Dam and North Pine Dam. From 2015, Baroon Pocket Dam and North Pine Dam were progressively drawn down as rainfall was insufficient to fully replenish them. The northern sub-region also relies on Ewen Maddock, Cooloolabin, Wappa and Lake Macdonald dams.
     
    • Baroon Pocket Dam is a relatively small storage with a volume of 61,000ML (equivalent to only 5% of the Wivenhoe Dam storage volume). The catchment that contributes flows to Baroon Pocket Dam has been a reliable source, historically using about 60% of its capacity each year.
    • The size and nature of Baroon Pocket Dam means that extended drought conditions can result in a decline of water levels and very limited time to implement contingency measures.
    • North Pine Dam has a larger storage with a volume of 214,000ML compared to Baroon Pocket Dam (equivalent to 18% of the Wivenhoe Dam storage volume).
    A key consideration for water supply in the northern sub-region is the time required to implement contingency measures in the event of extended drought conditions.
     
    The southern sub-region can access the Gold Coast Desalination Plant, while the central sub-region can use the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme.
     
    The recent dry period has highlighted the vulnerability of the water storages in the northern sub-region to drought without appropriate water transfers from the central to the northern sub-region via the SEQ Water Grid. In 2017, the grid was used to transfer water to the Northern sub-region, supplementing the sub-regions local water supply. Seqwater continues to operate the grid in this manner. While the grid is able to provide water to this sub-region, its capacity is limited and cannot meet total demands without input from local water supplies.
     
    You can read more about this scenario in our Water for Life: Water Security Program - 2017 Annual Report
     
    The Sunshine Coast case study is an example of why we must plan for every possible scenario to ensure we have enough water to meet the needs of all of South East Queensland communities
    Realities of dams

    The Reality of Dams

    We have more dams in Australia than anywhere else in the world

    Australia is the driest inhabited continent. The large number and size of water storages is because we are an arid country with highly variable rainfall. There are more than 800 major dams in Australia. We have 26 of them here in South East Queensland.

    • Our newest dam is Wyaralong, in the Scenic Rim, which was completed in 2011.
    • Our largest dam is Wivenhoe, which can store a whopping 1.165 million megalitres of water
    • Baroon Pocket Dam is the largest dam on the Sunshine Coast, which holds 61,000 megalitres.
    • If we were to pour all the combined water from the Sunshine Coast's drinking water dams into Wivenhoe, it would only fill Wivenhoe to about 8% of its drinking water capacity.

    Need more water? Just build more dams!

    While we’ve relied on dams in the past, and they’ve served us well, dams can only store water if it rains when and where we need it to. All the prime locations for dams have generally already been snapped up.

    Unlike diamonds, dams are not forever

    Many of our dams were built more than fifty years ago (some even earlier). We regularly monitor and assess our dams and some have been identified for upgrades, so that they continue working as they should. But most dams only have a life expectancy of 50 – 100 years.

    On the Sunshine Coast, Baroon Pocket is the baby of the bunch, having been completed in 1988. Wappa Dam (1963), Lake Macdonald (1965), Ewen Maddock (1976) and Cooloolabin (1979) were all built nearly 40 years ago.Lake Macdonald will undergo a major upgrade in the next four years. We will complete the second stage of the Ewen Maddock upgrade - the first stage was completed in 2012. Upgrades of Wappa and Cooloolabin have been completed.
     
    Somerset (1959) and Wivenhoe (1984) will also be upgraded in the next five years.
     
  • More

FAQs

What is Realities of Rain?

Realities of Rain is starting the conversation with the South East Queensland community about what we do when we can’t always count on the rain.

In South East Queensland, we can count on all types of rain – there’s wedding day rain, long weekend rain, school holiday rain and just-polished-the-car rain.

In fact, the only rain we can’t count on, is rain when we need it, where we need it.

That’s why we’re planning our water future.

When will water restrictions be in place?

When the combined level of drinking water dams are above 70%, there is no need for conservation measures or water restrictions.

When they reach 60%, we will ask the community to voluntarily try to reduce their water use to 150 litres per person, per day. Mandatory restrictions will be introduced once the level reaches 50%.

Even when restrictions aren't in place, there are some simple things we can do to be more water efficient around the home, school and work. Check out our water saving tips https://seqwater-stage.seqw.atechnology.com.au/news/reality-sharing-water

Why are we talking about rain?

Without rain, we don’t have water to live, work and play. Up until now, we’ve relied on dams for our water supply – but these rely on rain falling where and when we need it. 

Dams store water - they don’t make it. With the climate changing and our population growing, just having dams is not going to be enough for the future.

No one wants to see a South East Queensland without enough water to live, work and play the way we want to. 

That’s why we’re planning now - and we want the community to be part of the plan we’re creating.

What is an off-grid community?

We provide bulk water services to urban communities that are not directly connected to the SEQ Water Grid.

Each community has its own water treatment plant and reticulation (piped water network) system.

Seqwater provides bulk water to 16 off-grid communities.

Amity Point, Beaudesert, Boonah-Kalbar, Canungra, Dayboro, Dunwish, Esk, Jimna, Kenilworth, Kilcoy, Kooralbyn, Linville, Lowood, Point Lookout, Rathdowney and Somerset.

You can read more about off-grid communities and how we’re planning for their water futures in Water for life: South East Queensland’s Water Security Program 2016-46.

What can I do now?

We’ve created a hub at yourseqwater.com.au to talk Realities of Rain. What we’d love for you to do is:

  1. Register for Realities of Rain e-news and be the first to know when great videos, articles and interesting facts are added to the hub.
  2. Read the plan – you can find it in the document library.
  3. Book a presentation – we're happy to come to you and talk all things Realities of Rain
  4. Be water wise – there are no conservation measures or water restrictions currently in place, there are some simple things we can do to be more water efficient around the home, school and work. Check the video library for some water wise tips.
  5. Start a conversation with your kids, family and friends about water in your community. Do you know where your water comes from? How it is treated? What is our plan is during a drought?
What's the plan?

The Water Security Program is Seqwater's plan for providing the region's drinking water over the next 30 years, including during times of drought and flood.

We released an updated Program in March 2017. Check out our eight-page guide, Water for life: 2017 Annual Report, with the latest information about how our water security program is performing.

We’re going to update the Water Security Program by 2022 and we want to hear your thoughts about what you think about water, it’s supply and things we should be considering when planning for the future.

How much energy does desalination use?

Modern desalination plants use advanced technology and energy saving devices which result in them being far less energy intensive than traditional plants.

The Gold Coast Desalination Plant’s use of energy saving devices, combined with carbon offsets, make it extremely energy efficient.

The plant has the capacity to produce 133 million litres of drinking water a day. To produce a million litres of water, the plant consumes about 3.2 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy.

At full production, the plant consumes about 412.3MWh of energy per day, making it one of the most energy-efficient desalination plants in the world.

While in hot standby mode, which means the plant is operating at a third of its capacity, energy consumption has been significantly reduced, saving energy and costs while the region’s water security remains high.

How much does desalination cost?

The desalination plant’s annual operating costs amount to about $12 million to $13 million per annum depending on production. Energy accounts for around 25 per cent of the total operating cost. The operating cost and capital charge for the Gold Coast Desalination Plant (GCDP) accounts for around nine per cent of bulk water charges, or about $33 a year for the average SEQ household bill.

Does desalination impact the environment?

A long-term independent marine monitoring program, designed in conjunction with the State Government and independent marine experts, is in place. It shows that the plant is operating in compliance with licence conditions which have been developed to prevent environmental impacts. Results show small plants and animal organisms are thriving on and around the underwater infrastructure. Footage shows that the sea water intake is providing a habitat for a diverse variety of marine organisms, effectively creating an artificial reef. Real-time monitoring of the quality of the brine discharged back into the ocean includes measurement of pH, chlorine, dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity and salinity.

Are we using recycled water now?

No, the advanced water treatment plants are not producing purified recycled water for drinking at the moment. But since they were built about 10 years ago, they have always been part of our drought response plan.

Our updated drought response plan, released in 2017, states the purified recycled water treatment plants will be re-started when our key drinking water dam levels reach 60%. This does not mean recycled water will be immediately added to Wivenhoe Dam – it could take up to two years to fully re-start the plants.

But due to our increased understanding of the grid’s capacity to move water around the region, and our intention to ask the community to make voluntary savings earlier when we suspect a drought may be imminent, we can delay the investment required to turn the plants back on until absolutely necessary.

Why produce purified recycle water?

Nature already provides us with recycled water but not always at the right place at the right time. Three purified recycled water treatment plants were built during the Millennium Drought to provide a climate-resilient drinking water source, even in extreme drought. With dam water levels across the region high, the scheme was placed in care and maintenance mode in 2014.

As part of Seqwater’s Drought Response Plan, we will start getting the plants ready to produce recycled water when the combined levels of our key drinking water dams reach 60% of their capacity. Restarting the scheme is estimated to take up to two years. This has not been attempted anywhere else in the world before.

By starting the remobilisation at this point, purified recycled water will be available when needed to replenish Wivenhoe Dam during a severe drought.

As South East Queensland continues to grow and with it our demand for water, the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme is currently in the mix to provide water to meet the region’s demand.

What happens if we don't use purified recycled water?

If we don’t use our purified recycled water treatment plants to provide water, we will need to make up this water deficit with something else, most likely another climate-resilient source such as a desalination plant.

Construction costs for a new climate-resilient water source will run into the billions and would like result in water bills increasing for customers throughout South East Queensland. Using existing infrastructure, rather than build more, is one way we can help put downward pressure on water costs.

Remobilising and operating the scheme will cost a fraction of the amount needed if we were to build a new climate-resilient water source.