Water cuts hit

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Water cuts hit

WATER restrictions will be imposed in Korumburra and Fish Creek from this Thursday, January 14, as the region continues to be gripped by poor rainfall and high demand for water.

The restrictions come after South Gippsland received the lowest spring rainfall in the region since the late 1930s and a dry start to summer. No rain has been recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology’s observation station at Pound Creek so far this year and just 6mm was recorded at the bureau’s Yanakie station, as of yesterday (Monday).

Last Friday, Korumburra’s Coalition Creek system was at 65 per cent of capacity and Fish Creek’s Battery Creek system was at 67 per cent.

The water rules will require households to limit watering of gardens, and restrict filling of pools and washing of vehicles.

If warm, dry conditions continue, higher level water restrictions are possible.

People can face a fine for disobeying restrictions.

South Gippsland Water managing director Philippe du Plessis said stage one water restrictions were an “alert” for customers to think about their water usage.  

“Warm and dry weather leads to pressure on the water supply system, with many homes using more water for showers and watering gardens and lawns, at the same time the sunshine evaporates water from the reservoirs,” he said.

Mr du Plessis said the main difference in stage one water restrictions compared to permanent water saving rules was the introduction of alternate days for watering gardens.

“This means odd numbered houses can water on odd dates of the month and even numbered houses can water on even numbered dates. Both odd and even numbered houses can water on the 31st of the month,” he said.

Korumburra businessman David Amor said the water restrictions only highlighted that lack of water security was having a negative impact on Korumburra’s prosperity.

“Korumburra has one of the highest rainfalls in South Gippsland and the water restrictions are telling everyone that we have not got enough water,” he said.

“We have an industrial area that could be opened up on the Melbourne side of Korumburra and that is now being crushed by the lack of water.”

Mr Amor said Korumburra’ reservoirs needed to be expanded to cater for current and future demand.

“We have all been drinking out of the three same dams for the past 50 years and Korumburra’s population has grown in the past 20 years,” he said.

Mr Amor said the reservoirs had silted by up to a third and said those dams must be cleaned to increase capacity.

“If you clean out dam three, you could make it twice the size,” he said.

South Gippsland Water said doubling the size of reservoir one would only yield 50ML and that was “problematic due to the topography”.

“When you compare this increased storage capacity of 50ML with the volume of water already pumped from the Tarwin River this year, 160ML, it is apparent this would not secure the town’s water supply,” Mr du Plessis said.

South Gippsland Water rejected Mr Amor’s claim that reservoir two was leaking water, instead saying the reservoir wall was built with a seep point due to being an earthen embankment. Water that seeps through is recirculated back to the dam.

Burra Foods – the Korumburra based dairy manufacturer – will not be affected by water restrictions at this stage, general manager of operations Glenn Falcke said.

“Level one water restrictions do not impact directly but send an important signal that we must be very water conscience as we do not want to get to the point when level three or four restrictions kick in and have a big impact on our product mix,” he said.

“To this point we have just commissioned a new 900,000 litre recovery water tank. This tank will assist us to recover a lot more of the distilled water we are taking off the milk powder process and reprocess this condensate water using reverse osmosis membranes, chlorinate and reuse, hence decreasing our requirements for town water.”

Mr du Plessis said Battery Creek was a small system influenced by the drawdown from farms on the township fringe.

He said some of these properties are using the corporation’s water supplies to supplement farm supplies.

South Gippland Water started pumping a supplementary water supply from the Tarwin River for the Coalition Creek system at the start of December 2015.

Extreme dry conditions and rising demand have seen reservoirs drop irrespective of the supplementary water.

The Korumburra system comprises just three seasonal reservoirs totalling 585ML, relying on winter rains to replenish each season. 

“Dry conditions experienced through 2015 are a concern to the corporation as these reservoirs are filled from a catchment area only 6km2,” Mr du Plessis said.

This is not the earliest in summer Korumburra and Fish Creek have experienced water restrictions. In 2006 restrictions were imposed on the Battery Creek system during December. Korumburra had restrictions throughout winter and spring during 2007.

Korumburra’s water woes could be solved if the State Government funds the Northern Towns Project in the May state budget. That project will connect the Korumburra, Nyora, Loch and Poowong to the bigger Lance Creek reservoir. The process for review of the funding application starts this month.

South Gippsland Water has also not ruled out restrictions for the Leongatha, and Loch, Poowong and Nyora systems given the decreasing water systems there too.

Water down: dairy farmer Alex Moon said water storages are running on empty on several farms in Yanakie, after the driest year on record for the area.

Water down: dairy farmer Alex Moon said water storages are running on empty on several farms in Yanakie, after the driest year on record for the area.

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Posted by on Jan 12 2016. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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