Water from the desalination plant joining our water supply

In early March 2016, the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water lodged an order for 50 gigalitres (billion litres) of water from the Victorian Desalination Plant.

This was based on a recommendation from Melbourne’s four metropolitan water utilities, including South East Water.

The desalination plant supplies rainfall-independent, large-scale drinking water. It’s part of Melbourne’s diverse portfolio to reduce the pressure on our drinking water supplies, including large-scale recycled water projects, local stormwater re-use initiatives and improved commercial water-use efficiencies.

Why did we need to place an order?

This is the second year in succession that Melbourne storages have declined due to lower streamflows and high summer demand with very dry conditions. Storage capacity dropped by 8.3 per cent in 2015 (or 152 gigalitres) and 3.5 per cent in 2014 (64 gigalitres). A growing population means that water use has continued to increase.

A water order of 50 gigalitres helps recover these reductions and secure our water supply into the future.

What does 50 gigalitres ‘look’ like?

Fifty gigalitres equates to 50 billion litres of water. Melburnians last year used a total of 415 GL – or 415 billion litres of water.

What will desalinated water taste like and look like?

Desalinated water will be mixed with existing water storages and undergo the same treatment process - so there’ll be no difference to the taste or appearance of water that comes out of your tap.

Will my water bill go up?

A 50 gigalitre order equates to an extra annual cost of about $12 a year on a typical residential bill for customers of City West Water, South East Water, Western Water and Yarra Valley Water.

What would happen if we didn’t place the order?

Making a water order now is insurance against another dry year that may further reduce our storage levels and result in the need for a larger water order down the track.