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City key to water relief

Now built: the Wonthaggi desalination plant under construction.

KORUMBURRA’S looming water crisis could have been averted if the town had been connected to the Melbourne water supply.

South Gippsland Water’s managing director Phillipe du Plessis said the authority has been pushing for that connection for some time.

That would include access to desalinated water from Wonthaggi.

As it is, Korumburra customers will be forced to stage two water restrictions from midnight tonight (Tuesday, February 19).

The corporation anticipates that Korumburra will be moved to stage three restrictions within the next month, with all systems being monitored closely.

The recent dry weather has been something out of the box. Rainfall from January 1, 2013 to February 15has totalled just 33.8mm for the Coalition Creek storages.

During the same time in 2006 – when the region was in the grip of worst drought in living memory – the Coalition Creek storages recorded 50mm.

“Due to continued dry weather conditions and the current storage levels of the Coalition Creek Water Supply System from midnight Tuesday, February 19, South Gippsland Water is activating stage two water restrictions for Korumburra and customers of the Coalition Creek water supply system,” Mr du Plessis said.

“South Gippsland Water is continuing to monitor all systems and other townships may see restrictions activated.”

Coalition Creek is at 48 per cent of its capacity.

Mr du Plessis said South Gippsland Wa ter put its Long Term Water Supply Demand Strategy “in the public domain for consultation over the last 18 months”.

“This strategy proposes to secure the water supply for the corporation’s northern townships including Korumburra, Poowong, Loch and Nyora by connecting these townships to Lance Creek Reservoir and utilising the Melbourne supply system as a back-up in extreme dry conditions,” he said.

“A business case has been previously been lodged with the government and a detailed application for funding is currently being prepared.”

Mr du Plessis said South Gippsland Water was “aware of the need to secure additional water supplies for Korumburra over the long term and this is being pursued”.

“However, in the short term the corporation has existing measures in place to supplement water supplies should this be needed in the coming months,” he said.

“South Gippsland Water will utilise the bulk water entitlement it has for the Tarwin River and existing pipe work to supplement supplies as storages get lower.”

Mr du Plessis said Korumburra’s water supply ran dry quicker because it “relies on three relatively small reservoirs with a small catchment area totalling only six square kilometres”.

“The small catchment area limits augmentation of the reservoir with no guarantee that the reservoir would fill, even if it was expanded,” he said.

“The system relies on an annual cycle of fill over winter and empty over summer. With the size of the catchment area and reservoirs, the corporation finds that this cycle tends to occur over a short period of time, with storages dropping off and re-filling quite rapidly.”

Stage one water restrictions at Korumburra came into effect on January 31.

At the end of October, the holding was 88 per cent full. Yesterday (Monday), it had dropped to 48 per cent.

According to South Gippsland Water’s website, the system holds a total of 658 megalitres when it’s full. Halve that and the problem becomes obvious for a population of 3348.

A megalitre equates to roughly the contents of an Olympic sized swimming pool.

There was a short, sharp burst of rain last Thursday, but in Leongatha, that only meant 5mm.

The tipping point for the most severe restrictions, stage four, is when the Korumburra storage plummets to just over 100 megalitres.

Under stage two restrictions, watering of lawns is banned, watering systems can only be used to water gardens between 6am and 8am and 6pm and 8pm on alternate days.

This means odd numbered houses water on odd numbered days and even numbers on even numbered days. The occupants of all numbers can water between the specified hours on the 31st of the month. Houses without numbers are regarded as having an even number. A hand held hose with a trigger nozzle, bucket or watering can may be used at any time.

You may not hose paving, concrete or other hard areas except in an emergency or for health or construction reasons.

Vehicles can be washed using a high pressure cleaning device, hand held hose with a trigger nozzle or bucket or watering can.

Mr du Plessis implores all Korumburra and Coalition Creek customers to “activate water conservation practices”.

The last time any of South Gippsland Water’s systems were on restrictions was in 2008.

Other smaller systems such as Leongatha and Fish Creek are being closely watched.

Full details of the stage two restrictions are available at www.sgwater.com.au or by ringing 1300 851 636.

 

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=6528

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