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Melbourne's Water Outlook 2022

01 Dec 2021

Melbourne’s water storage levels are the highest they’ve been for 20 years and they’re forecast to remain secure for the next 12 months with help from the Victorian Desalination Plant, according to Melbourne’s Water Outlook 2022.

The city’s water storages are 90% full. Without additional water from the desalination plant topping up supplies each year, Melbourne’s water storages would be around 68%.

This boost to the water storage is good news given the rise in extreme weather events like bushfires, severe storms and the increased likelihood of extended dry conditions and drought. 

Severe weather events impact our water storage levels as they can fall quickly, and storms and bushfires can potentially affect water quality. This demonstrates the need for a flexible and resilient water system, where we can take reservoirs offline and draw on the Victorian Desalination Plant for our water.

Showing how quickly things can change, over the past year Melburnians’ water use has shifted as a result of working and schooling from home. Residential usage increased slightly to an average of 159 litres of water per person, per day, while business use decreased by 11%. 

While storage levels are well placed heading into summer, Melbourne’s water corporations encourage Melburnians to keep using water wisely.

As Melbourne continues to grow so too does water demand. Planning for the future helps to protect our precious drinking water supplies.

The Melbourne Water Outlook 2022 shows that:

•    The system’s total storage level is 90.0% which is 14.6% or 263.3 billion litres higher than the same time last year.

•    The Victorian Desalination Plant has contributed almost 396 billion litres of desalinated water since 2017, helping Melbourne’s storages rise to the highest levels seen in 20 years.

•    The desalination plant provides us with a flexible water management approach and allows us to continue to access drinking water, including if our reservoirs are impacted by bushfires or storms. Strengthening our water supply network in this way ensures we continue to maintain a resilient supply in the future. 

•    For the 2021–22 year, the desalination plant is delivering 125 billion litres of desalinated water of which just over 69 billion litres have been delivered to date.

•    Melburnians used an average of 159 litres per person, per day which is slightly above the Victorian Government’s target of 155.

Speaking on behalf of Melbourne’s water corporations, South East Water Managing Director, Lara Olsen, said that even with high storages Melburnians still needed to plan ahead to secure the city’s future water supplies. 

“While it’s always great to see our storages looking so healthy it’s important to remember that water storage levels are just one part of the story. The amount of water we have available depends on a range of factors including climate conditions, population growth and customer use. 

“Demand over the long-term continues to grow, and the impact of climate change means warmer and drier days will reduce the amount of water coming into our storages,” said Ms Olsen.

Melburnians are continuing to consider how much water they use, as water corporations invest in alternative water sources for the future. 

"We know that Melburnians are great at saving water and making every drop count. The usage figure has crept up slightly from 157 litres per person, per day last year to 159, but even with many of us working and schooling from home, Melburnians are still being conscious of the water they use,” added Ms Olsen.

“Maximising the water we use from other sources such as stormwater and recycled water also remains vital to maintaining a reliable future water supply. Water corporations continue to invest in innovative projects and technology to maximise water from other sources.”

Melbourne’s water corporations are also working together to develop the Water for Life strategy, which will impart real change during the next five years, and set a strong foundation to confidently meet our diverse water needs for the next 50 years.  Through engaging with the community, the strategy will identify options and specific actions to secure our future water supplies.

Melbourne’s Water Outlook 2022 is a collaboration between Melbourne Water, Greater Western Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water. The corporations come together to assess and predict impacts to the city’s water storages for the coming year and continue to secure water supplies. 

View the report.
For water saving tips, visit www.makeeverydropcount.com.au or www.target155.vic.gov.au