Melbourne’s Annual Water Outlook 2024 shows that water storage levels are secure for the year ahead. Storages are high now, sitting at 95.0%, but can fall very quickly in dry conditions.
Our storages are currently holding 1,112 billion litres of water for Melbourne’s households and businesses, which is equivalent to 2.4 years of water supply. Current storage levels are high due to above-average rainfall and inflows into catchments over the past three years.
Recent wet years have offered some short-term relief from a longer-term dry trend. Generally, Melbourne’s annual water use exceeds natural flows into our storages by 50–70 billion litres. Over time this deficit will continue to grow.
Regular use of the Victorian Desalination Plant helps to close this gap, providing a buffer in the event of drought and extreme weather conditions. This gives us flexibility, so we’re prepared for future variability and growing water demands.
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting warmer conditions over summer, including El Niño conditions. These can typically lead to lower flows into storages and increased water use, meaning our water storages can drop quickly.
Although water restrictions aren’t expected for Greater Melbourne over the next 12 months, permanent water saving rules will continue to apply and we all need to make every drop count.
Melbourne’s annual water outlook is a collaboration between Greater Western Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water. The corporations come together to assess current water use and demand and project any potential impacts on Greater Melbourne’s water supplies for the coming year.
Speaking on behalf of Melbourne’s water corporations, South East Water Managing Director, Lara Olsen said while it’s positive that Melburnians used slightly less water at home this year - 161 litres per person per day, compared to 163 litres for the previous year - we cannot afford to become complacent.
“Our water storages are secure right now, but we know hotter conditions are expected over the summer, and warmer and drier conditions in the longer term. We’re also experiencing a fast-growing population and increasing demands for water across our region. These can all affect storage levels.
“So, it’s important to continue to keep making every drop count and aim for 150 litres of water per person per day to keep our supplies secure now and into the future.”
South East Water Managing Director, Lara Olsen
The outlook also outlines how the water sector works together to plan for Greater Melbourne’s future.
“We work together to make sure water storages have enough water to meet our needs, and to reduce our reliance on precious drinking water. We also provide information about water and its value to our customers and communities and empower them to continue to find ways to use less. These all help to secure Melbourne’s water for the future,” Ms Olsen said.
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