Bundaberg residents have been praised for their responsible water use during dry conditions as Council confirms there is no risk to supply.
Council's general manager infrastructure Stuart Randle said the city is below its allocation for surface and groundwater.
“We believe that's because residents and businesses are being sensible with their water usage. There aren’t many green lawns around the town,” Mr Randle said.
“The region is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, including multiple water sources to meet Bundaberg’s projected needs.
“This water, which is secured by the highest-priority allocations and administered by State Government agencies, is high quality and suitable for treatment to meet drinking water guidelines.
“Bundaberg has not experienced serious water shortages in the past due in large part to a conservative and prudent approach to water management. That approach will be continued.”
Council data shows that water usage for the last three months of 2019 was up 45 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier.
Demand spikes during hot and dry conditions are not unusual, and includes water being carted to people in rural areas with depleted rainwater tanks.
Safety margin ensures reliable water supply
Over the past several years, Mr Randle said annual water demand had seldom exceeded 70 per cent of available supply, maintaining a safety margin to meet all but the most extreme circumstances.
“Looking to the future, projected scenarios demonstrate no foreseeable growth in short-term raw water demands that could endanger Council’s ability to provide adequate water supplies,” he said.
“Council encourages water conservation and will continue to monitor the region's water supply and demand to ensure ongoing availability.”
Mr Randle said Council seeks to maximise the use of groundwater as it’s very high quality and requires minimal treatment.
“Our usage for the past three months is up 45 per cent compared to the previous year because of the drought and the ratio was 61 per cent surface water and 39 per cent groundwater,” he said.
“All of the network’s surface water supply is extracted from the Burnett River at Ben Anderson Barrage.
“Network supply is supported by water stored in Paradise Dam on the Burnett River and Fred Haigh Dam on the Kolan River.
“If necessary, water can be transferred from Fred Haigh Dam into the Burnett River to maintain supplies in the Burnett River catchment.”
Mr Randle said Council's allocation from Sunwater was not affected by the capacity of Paradise Dam being reduced.
“While prolonged drought could impact on groundwater availability, this is not envisaged to occur in the next few years even if dry conditions continue,” he said.
“Groundwater is replenished by rainfall and it’s monitored for salinity levels.
“Should the availability of groundwater be restricted, Council may need to use more surface water to make up the balance required to meet the network’s demand (eg from Fred Haigh Dam).”
Mr Randle said groundwater is pumped from several bores owned and operated by Council.
The usual ratio is around 60 per cent groundwater to 40 per cent surface water but more surface water was being used this summer to mitigate taste and odour issues in coastal areas.
“In 2016, annual water demand was projected to rise from around 9000 megalitres per year in 2013 to around 12,000 megalitres by 2036, a growth of 33 per cent due to population increases,” he said.
“Usage will be higher in very dry years.
“Expert analysis indicates that at previous levels of water demand, the network’s supply of surface water has a median likelihood of shortfall less than once in 10,000 years on average.”
The Childers and Woodgate areas rely on surface water from Gregory River Weir, which was topped up recently with water released from Paradise Dam.
For information about water conservation visit https://www.bundaberg.qld.gov.au/water-conservation.
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