21. October 2021

Victoria to rely more heavily on desal water as climate change bites


As climate change reduces rainfall in Victoria, the state’s central and japanese areas, together with Melbourne and Geelong, will want to rely more heavily on desalinated water and grow to be more water environment friendly or danger shortfalls inside a decade.

Without the Wonthaggi desalination plant, Melbourne’s present demand would outstrip provide by 70 billion litres yearly (or 28,000 Olympic swimming swimming pools), Water Minister Lisa Neville mentioned.

The Yarra River at Warrandyte

The Yarra River at WarrandyteCredit:Justin McManus

On Friday Ms Neville launched the draft water technique for the central and Gippsland areas, a big space that features Melbourne and Geelong and is relied on by more than 6 million individuals. It covers waterways from the Great Dividing Range down to the coast and from the Otways to East Gippsland.

“Over the last 10 years we have already seen significant declines in our water supply. Part of that is population growth, but climate change is what is really driving this,” Ms Neville mentioned. “Less water is flowing into rivers, and less water is captured in water storages and dams.”


Water provides will want to double over the following 50 years to meet inhabitants progress, the technique finds, however constructing more dams isn’t the reply. There are not any remaining viable dam websites and sooner or later there gained’t be sufficient rain to fill them.

Instead, the area will use more “manufactured” water provides together with desalinated water (for ingesting and on a regular basis use) and recycled water as properly as stormwater for non-drinking makes use of such as watering crops or trade.

The state may additionally lower the utmost water-use goal of 155 litres per individual per day to 150 litres.

Victoria’s long-term drying development is anticipated to proceed, and by 2065 the Melbourne and Geelong area might be relying on manufactured water for an estimated 75 per cent of its provides, the draft technique says.

“Without a planned approach to sustainable water management, Melbourne and Geelong are at risk of water shortfalls this decade,” the report says.

Relying more heavily on manufactured water quite than river water will imply better water entitlements may be returned to conventional house owners and the surroundings in a heavily oversubscribed system, it finds.

Inside the desalination plant.

Inside the desalination plant.Credit:Tim Young

Historic water injustices for conventional house owners, who’ve lengthy been excluded from water administration and possession in Victoria, “must be remedied”.

The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation was given two gigalitres of water from the Mitchell River final yr, the primary cultural water hand-back in Victoria.


Lisa Hocking, the centre’s coverage and program supervisor, mentioned all conventional house owners ought to have the ability to decide how to use water on their Country. “It’s very important for healing Country, and people as well,” Ms Hocking mentioned.

Under the draft technique, environmental water can even be returned to main rivers, lots of that are unwell and residential to threatened species such as the platypus, which was added to Victoria’s threatened species checklist in January and is assessed as “vulnerable”.

Melbourne’s residential water consumption has decreased by more than one-third in 20 years: from 245 litres per individual per day in 2001 to 157 litres right this moment.

The Victorian desalination plant, close to Wonthaggi, was introduced by then premier Steve Bracks in 2007 on the peak of the millennium drought, when Melbourne’s water storage ranges dropped to lower than 30 per cent.

It was accomplished in 2012 beneath a public-private partnership. In 2019-20 about 125 billion litres was ordered from the plant, at the price of $63 million to prospects. In 2020-21 the identical quantity was ordered, at a value of $73.8 million.

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