Australia’s warmest summer on record and dry autumn with below average rainfall have left the country’s capital cities, including Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Darwin facing the prospect of dams below 50% capacity, according to The Guardian.
Currently, Greater Sydney’s eleven dams are at a 55% capacity, in comparison to last May’s 73%. Since 1940, inflows are at their lowest levels.
In January, Sydney started up its desalination plant, as its water storages dropped below 60 per cent. Nevertheless, the levels have continued to drop by 0.4% per week, and further water restrictions will be put into place if the level drops below 50%.
Sydney Water warned that the city’s dams will be less than 50% by August, unless there is dramatic rainfalls and residents are more conscientious with their water use.
Several permanent Waterwise rules have already been put in place in Sydney. Residents can only water their gardens before 10am and after 4pm and may not hose their driveways, unless for sanitary or health reasons.
In Melbourne, dam levels are at 50,6%, compared with 59% last year and 61% in 2017.
In April, Melbourne Water said that storage “hasn’t been this low since April 2011.”
Like Sydney, Melbourne has a series of permanent restrictions since 2012. These rules called Target 155 encourage residents to limit their consumption to 155 litres per person per day. Last year, households were using an average of 161 litres per day.
Brisbane has also been affected by low rainfall. The city’s dams are at 69.5% this week, compared to 82% this time last year.
Neil Brennan, chief executive of Seqwater told The Guardian that water levels were at their lowest since February 2010.
In the western part of the state, New South Wales’ Burrendong Dam is at 6% and it is expected to be empty without significant rainfall.