Water, water everywhere…except where it counts

Nearly a week of torrential rain has replenished south-east Queensland’s water supply by just three per cent and the region’s largest storage – Wivenhoe Dam – remains a little over one-third full.

Mar 26, 2021, updated Mar 26, 2021

While 11 of the region’s 25 major dams are spilling after days of torrential rain, water authorities remain in “drought response” phase, encouraging residents to use no more than 150 litres per person per day.

South-east Queensland’s water grid is at 59 per cent, with the Wivenhoe Dam at just 37.3 per cent.

Seqwater Chief Executive Officer Neil Brennan said most of the rain had fallen in coastal catchments.

“On the Gold Coast, Hinze Dam and Little Nerang Dam catchments received more than 470mm of rain, while Sunshine Coast and Noosa dams received 160mm to 230mm,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the heavy rain didn’t fall where it was needed the most, with Wivenhoe Dam receiving 70-80mm of rain fall in the past week and Somerset Dam– which flows into Wivenhoe – receiving 95mm.

Brennan said inflows were continuing into both the Somerset Dam and Wivenhoe Dam catchments, he was not expecting significant improvement to their combined storage level.

Brennan said pipeline network that was part of the grid was being used to transport treated drinking water from the Gold and Sunshine Coasts – where dams had been topped up – into Brisbane and surrounding areas to take pressure off Wivenhoe.

“The SEQ Water Grid consists of more than 600 kms of bulk water supply pipelines and connects the region’s major water treatments plants and water dams as well as the Gold Coast Desalination Plant,” he said.

He said the Grid had allowed the authority to connect the region’s 12 key water supply storages across South East Queensland to ensure security of supply.

Out in the Scenic Rim, Moogerah Dam, which had reached a historic low of 12.5 per cent last week, has seen its level rise to about 41 per cent.

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Brennan said despite the recent downpour, it was important for communities to continue to curb their water use.

“With the region’s combined water level still under 60 per cent, we remain in our drought response phase and ask residents to remain water conscious, especially as we enter our traditional dry season,” he said.

He said water grid was at about 70 per cent capacity this time last year, with the Wivenhoe topping 53 percent.

Brennan said average residential water usage across South East Queensland was 151 litres per person per day last week, just one litre shy of the region’s drought response target.

“The rain has topped up rainwater tanks and given lawns and gardens a good drink,” he said.

“This should help all of us reach that 150 litres per person per day target.”

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