Water

Desal plant may boost low supply

By Country News

Extremely dry conditions across Victoria are hurting the state’s drinking water supplies and increasing the likelihood of a desalination order by the end of March.

Melbourne’s water supply is down to 55.7 per cent, and places like Geelong are at 41 per cent, Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville confirmed on Thursday.

She said because the ground was so dry, and in parts fire-ravaged, ‘‘even rain at the moment will not end up in our dam system’’.

‘‘I just can’t underestimate how critical an order probably will be this year to make sure we’re not in dangerous levels in terms of our water security going forward.’’

Ms Neville would know by the end of the month how much water would need to be ordered from the Wonthaggi plant.

She said the government would try and keep the flow-on cost to users as small as possible.

The Andrews Government flagged in January it would probably need to rely on desalination when water levels were at 60.96 per cent.

Ms Neville urged people to save ‘‘half a bucket of water a day’’.

‘‘We’re averaging around about 165litres per day, per person,’’ she said.

‘‘We would like to see people back down to 155; that would save around nine-to-10 (gigalitres) so make a big contribution to our water security with very little impact on Victorians.’’

Victoria last made an order for desalinated water in March 2018.