Water storage levels reveal “harsh new reality” of climate change

Posted 19 October 2018

river drought climate change
When it comes to national water storage levels, some parts of Australia could be facing major water restrictions sooner than they think due to the effects of climate change.

“If we look at the water storage levels in Australia in October 2018, we can clearly see who is winning and losing,” said WaterGroup Managing Director Guenter Hauber-Davidson. 

Hauber-Davidson, who has worked with water authorities across Australia to help reduce water loss for more than two decades, shared his insights into the current state of water storage across Australia’s metropolitan dams.

“Canberra hasn’t lost quite as much water as our politicians have lost credibility, but levels have been going down enough to take notice,” he said. 

“Well done to Perth, which has 15% more water in its dams than last year. It shouldn’t rest too easy though – we all know how quickly things can change.” 

Hauber-Davidson said Brisbane is the only other capital city with increased levels, up 5%, while Melbourne and Hobart are trending downwards. Darwin remains relatively unchanged.

“Sydney and Adelaide have experienced a whopping 25% fall in 12 months,” he said. 

“At this rate, without substantial rain, they could be running on empty in under three years.”

Water storage graph
 

What does this tell us?

 
Hauber-Davidson said the figures show the water industry needs to start planning for the impacts of a changing climate.

“Climate change is upon us. The sooner we stop listening to any of those stubborn alt-right climate change deniers and get on with dealing with the harsh new reality, the better,” he said. 

“The new reality is that all the predictions are coming true; more frequent and severe droughts are coming.” 

What can we do about it? 

Hauber-Davidson suggested the following:

1. Accept that water will get scarcer and thus more expensive.
2. Better manage water, with a focus on efficiency. 
3. Take a serious look at the current rules and regulations governing the use of alternative water sources, whether that’s rain or stormwater, grey or black water, or any other form of recycled water. “The current set-up is too restrictive, over the top and not economically viable,” he said 
4. Invest in metering and monitoring. “We cannot keep using an archaic system where such a precious resource is measured just once every three months. We need at least daily snapshots of what is happening in our homes, factories, schools, offices and institutions – and the networks.” 
5. Monitor more regularly. “We can no longer accept that losing 10% of precious drinking water in our pipe distribution networks is normal, just as we can longer allow high abnormal use – including leaks in buildings – to run undetected for months,” Hauber-Davidson said. “Online monitoring using disruptive, low-cost IoT technology could do away with all of that.” 
 
 
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