Water from the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant has begun to enter the Cardinia Reservoir as part of a plan to deliver water security to Victoria.
The benefits will reach well beyond Melbourne, bringing greater water security for communities across regional Victoria.
This delivery guarantees a secure and resilient water grid, one that supports livelihoods and combats the threat of reduced rainfall from climate change.
After an extra dry start to 2017, it will also bring extra security in the future to communities like Korumburra in South Gippsland, which is set to face water restrictions.
Based on a similar initiative in South Australia, Victoria will introduce a minimum annual water order from the Desalination Plant to be reviewed in three years, guaranteeing continued water security, better plant management and more steady prices for customers.
Victorian Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said that water customers will not face additional charges on their water bills for 2017’s 50GL water order or the subsequent three minimum water orders.
This will save customers $12 for 2017’s order on an annual average water bill. This will be done via efficiencies found within the water contract.
“We’ve learnt the lessons from the millennium drought and this secures our water supplies at a time when our reserves are decreasing,” Ms Neville said.
“The minimum water order will help with the operation of the plant while not impacting on water bills.
“The plant was not built to be turned on just when our water supply reached critical levels; instead its aim is to make sure that our supply doesn’t fall to those levels in the first place.”
The latest Bureau of Meteorology data shows Victoria is set for an ‘Indian summer’, with temperatures in March well above average and rainfall at a decade-long low. Climate modelling also suggests there is an increased chance of El Niño forming later in 2017.
Rainfall across the four main catchments is 23 per cent below the 30-year average, with ten out of the last 12 weeks recording below average inflows into Melbourne’s storages.
Since December 2016, Melbourne’s storages have fallen by 97GL or 5.3 per cent.
Water storages have been decreasing since November 2016 and are now at 65.6 per cent – over six per cent below the same time two years ago. This is a reduction of approximately 112GL.