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South East Queensland combined dam levels drop to 60pc — so when will water restrictions begin?

By Lexy Hamilton-Smith, Tuesday November 19, 2019 - 09:11 EDT
ABC image
Wivenhoe Dam is now below 50 per cent capacity. - ABC

Queensland's combined has fallen to 60 per cent in the south-east of the state for the first time in 11 years, according to Seqwater.

External relations manager Mike Foster said it was at the lowest level since the and the region's largest dam, Wivenhoe Dam north of Brisbane, has fallen below 50 per cent.

Subsequently, Seqwater has ordered production at the Tugun desalination plant on the Gold Coast to be increased significantly.

Since 2013, the plant produced between 10 million and 20 million litres of drinking water into the supply every fortnight, but now it would be ramped up to 100 per cent capacity.

Mr Foster said it would now produce 133 million litres of water at full capacity and can make up about 15 per cent of the region's drinking water supply.

"So not an insignificant source for us," he said.

"We are certainly not in dire straits from a water supply perspective, but as of today, the first phase of our drought-response plan for the region is being implemented."

When will water restrictions be introduced?

"It is really important and there has been a bit of confusion, but we are not heading to water restriction in the south-east," Mr Foster said.

The first phase is a voluntary one where Seqwater asks homeowners to "think" about limiting usage.

Mr Foster said they would not look at restrictions until dam levels dropped to a combined 50 per cent capacity.

"We would have to have a failed wet season and even after that the earliest we could consider it would be about mid-2020," Mr Foster said.

What can we do to conserve water?

Queensland Urban Utilities manager Michelle Cullen said during the hot, dry spring, water usage had crept up to 200 litres per day per person.

"[This] is a bit higher than it normally is this time of year, so we would like to see people do everything they can — inside their homes and outside," she said.

"The savings can really add up if you incorporate some simple changes into your daily routine, like taking shorter showers, turning the tap off while brushing your teeth and only washing when you have full loads.

"You can make every drop count outside by avoiding watering between 8:00am and 4:00pm, mulching the garden and washing the car on the lawn."

The table below shows how savings add up:

Water-wise behaviour Approximate water savings
Take shorter showers 9 litres per minute
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth 5 litres per minute
Use the half flush instead of the full flush on the toilet Up to 30 litres per day
Only do full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine Thousands of litres per year
Use a pool cover when pool is not in use 36,000 litres per year


© ABC 2019

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